Yawkyawk and Rainbow Serpent (Ngalyod)

The artist has painted Yawkyawk, the Kunwinjku term used for young women but also for female water spirits that have fish tails as shown in this painting. Sometimes they are described as ‘mermaids’ and live in trees and water in special places in western Arnhem Land. The spirits are guardians of a sacred waterhole. Ngalyod (the Rainbow Serpent) is a most important ancestor spirit in western Arnhem Land and apears in various manifestations in Kunwinjku mythology. She is generally feared as she may swallow Aboriginals who break traditional laws. Ngalyod dwells also in various billabongs (lagoons) in Arnhem Land. In the Dreamtime Ngalyod 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.

Artist bimbom Yawkyawj Djang.yawkyawk ngarriyime manbu Kunwinjku kunwok yawkyawk nawu daluhdaluk nawu birriyawyak minj birriyawmayinj Nahni aywkyawk kayolyolme nawu kundad bedberre yiman djenj kunberd.kabirriyo kore kubolkdjamun kunred.Nahni yawkyawk djang kayolyolme kore kunred kabolkngeyo Marlwon Outstaion Koye Gunbalanya.Nawern djang kadberre kadjangdi kore kunred kubolkwarlahken kunred.