Ngalyod (Rainbow Serpent)
The artist has painted Ngalyod, the Rainbow Serpent. Ngalyod is regarded as a most important ancestor spirit in West Arnhem Land and appears in various manifestations in Kunwinjku mythology. In the Dreamtime she assumed a range of animal forms including snake, kangaroo and crocodile and at times transformed herself from one to the other, or into a combination of each. It is believed that as a serpent she tunnels underground using barbed extensions from her head and the bony protuberance from her neck as aids. It is believed that Ngalyod dwells in various billabongs in Arnhem Land today, sometimes swallowing bininj (the Kunwinjku term for Aboriginal people) as punishment when they break traditional laws.
Ngalyod is painted by many Kunwinjku artists, according to each artist’s own imagination and mythological background. She is often depicted with the leaves of the mandem (water lily) protruding from her back. The hatching technique used for the in-fill of the body is called rarrk.