Kinga & Durrubu – Two Brothers
Ochre on Bark
53cm x 22cm
Glen has painted the two brothers story in full rarrk using traditional ochres on bark. The two reptiles in this painting were originally human beings. They were two Nabulanj brothers of the Kundung tribe. The country was Maburrinj, at the mouth of the Moss River. The brothers were standing on the shore wanting to cross the river’s mouth. Another group of men also gathered to cross. There were two paperbark canoes and a rush to get to them first. The two brothers did not reach the canoes in time as one canoe was filled with Yirridjdja people and the other with Duwa people.In anger the little brother said “Let’s swim and turn ourselves into a saltwater crocodile and water goanna and we can follow them” . They followed the canoe into the middle of the river and capsized it, tipping the other men into the sea. The others floated in the water until they began to grow feathers, changing into all the different kinds of water birds. In their new forms they rose from the water and flew away to live in all parts of the country. The older brother became Durrbu the water goanna and the younger Kinga the estuarine or saltwater crocodile. The younger brother said “You go and swim in freshwater and I’ll stay in saltwater.” The younger brother took mandubang, the roots of the ironwood tree, to make his skin rough and strong to protect him in the salt waters. The older brother swam upstream to the freshwaters of the inland billabongs.
The fine crosshatching technique Glen has used in this painting is called rarrk. Manyilk, a brush made from sedge grass whittled to a single fibre, is used to paint the rarrk. This is a technique that has been used by Kunwinjku artists for thousands of years in the rock art of Injalak hill and all throughout western Arnhem Land.