Maningrida Arts and Culture

Namarrkon (the lightning spirit) by Paul Namarinjmak Nabulumo

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Namarden or Namarrkon are Eastern Kunwinjku names for the Lightning Spirit. This entity, which is responsible for lightning and thunder, is painted on both stone and bark in a form described as ‘like a grasshopper’. Namarrkon is said to have made Ngaldjurr - Leichardt’s or the spectacular grasshopper [Petasia ephippigera]. The species emerges, mates and is most active and visible in the season known as Kunemeleng, between October and December when there are intense electrical storms. Ngaldjurr is then said to be ‘looking for’ Namarrkon. Namarrkon makes lightning and thunder by striking out with kurlbburru - stone axes which protrude from its joints. Today, the Kuninjku will not leave axes lying out in the open during an electrical storm as the axes act as an attraction to the destructive force of Namarrkon. The lines emanating from Namarrkon’s head are said to be mardno or lightning bolts of power. 

Maningrida comes from the Ndjébbana phrase mane djang karrirra, meaning ‘the place where the totemic ancestors transformed.’ The community is located in Central Arnhem Land, a region defined by linguistic and cultural diversity, home to twelve language groups, 110 clans and 32 outstations or homelands. 

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Title: Namarrkon (the lightning spirit)
Artist: Paul Namarinjmak Nabulumo
Medium: Stringybark (Eucalyptus Tetradonta) with Ochre Pigment and PVA Fixative
Dimensions (cm): 101 x 48cm
Catalogue Number: 382-20

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