Arnhem Land artistry
AM 1161/03 Wakewaken Sugar Bag Woman 2003
Natural ochres on Arches paper 1020 x 760mm SOLD
The painting depicts a Wakewake (Sugarbag Woman) from country east of the Mann River. The plants are
manwak a fruit bush. These wakewake (wakewaken) originally lived under a paperbark tree in a creek which has
very cold water. This is the same place that Ngalyod (the Rainbow Serpent) sometimes resides. They left their
underwater home and moved around the country gathering bush fruit which they placed in their burlbe dilly bags.
Wark, the black crow, became angry that they were stealing his country so cut them in half with a stone axe. They
then became mankung or sugarbag, the honey of native bees. They also left their imprint as a rock painting in the
artist's Mankung Djang (Sugarbag Dreaming) country. In earlier days when Aboriginal people from this region
wanted to ensure that sugar bag would be plentiful each year they would swim in the creek and pull up the water weeds near the base of the paperbark tree where the wakewaken resided. The black area represents the mankung inside a tree trunk.