About this product

Handwoven 2D Fibre Sculpture by Maureen Ali of Maningrida Arts and Culture

This is a depiction of Nguykal, the Golden Trevally [Gnathanodon speciosus]. In the early times of creation, Nguykal, the Trevally ancestor, travelled as two fish from the east along the coast. As he travelled along the coast he named clans or bapurru. These clans include Gamarl, Mardarrpa, Ritjarrngu, Gumatj, Dhalwangu, Wan.gurri and Warramiri. When Nguykal reached Gu-mugumuk on the east coast of Cape Stewart he leaped from the sea and landed inland at Gamurra Gu-yurra on Warrawarra clan lands. This created the sacred dreaming called Baltha, which is represented in design as a forked shape, reminiscent of the tail of a fish. Baltha stands as a tree at Gamurra Gu-yurra, and the forked shape that the main branches make with the trunk betray its sacred associations. The Trevally ancestor then returned to the sea and kept travelling around Yinangarnduwa (Cape Stewart).

Upon reaching Burnbuwa, a site midway between Yinangarnduwa and Yilan outstation, he became frightened by the appearance of lunggurrma, the clouds and rain associated with the northwest monsoon, which originated from beneath the sea. At this point the two fish separated. One of the Nguykal ancestors went inside at Burnbuwa and remains there as a dreaming, while the other returned back to the east and kept travelling until he reached the Yirrkala area. There he named a site Burnbuwa, which marks the link between these places. Trevally spend much time swimming in and around the rocky reefs that lie close to shore along the north-central Arnhem Land coast.

The formation swimming of the trevally has a religious dimension, and when the Gamarl and their close clansmen dance the Trevally ancestor, they also dance in formation like a school of fish and at one stage two groups of men will dance towards each other. In painted depictions, cross-hatched stripes of infill surrounding Nguykal may represent rrawa or country at Burnbuwa and other places along the north-eastern Arnhem Land coast where Nguykal swam. Different clan groups each hold tenure over separate sections of country, but together they form a 'company' of related clans. These clans form a network linked by a system of reciprocal kinship and ceremonial ties. The Golden Trevally Ancestor is the explanation for the links between the different clan groups, and today the celebration of Nguykal’s creation journey in song, dance and design by the members of these groups continues to strengthen the kinship and ceremonial links between the members of these clans.

Please note: This artwork is part of our current exhibition 'Living off our waters' running from 23 November - 28 January 2024. All purchased works will be dispatched from Tuesday 30th January. Please reach out if you require your artwork prior to Christmas/the end of the year and we can arrange this for you.

Maningrida Art and Culture

Woven Ngakul (Golden Travelly) by Maureen Ali (Living off Our Waters Exhibition)


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Product information

Title: Woven Birlmu or Namarnkorl (Barramundi)
Artist: Maureen Ali
Dimensions: 110 x 34cm
Medium: Pandanus (Pandanus Spiralis) and Bush
Cane (Flagellaria Indica) with Natural Dyes
Catalogue Number: 1141-23

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