Out of the Earth
Ochre paintings from various regions of Australia
15 AM 6853/10
Susan Marawarr Hollow Log (Lorrkon) 2009
Natural ochre & pigment on wood 1855 x 230 x 210mm SOLD
The Lorrkon or bone pole coffin ceremony was the final ceremony in a sequence of mortuary rituals celebrated by the
people of Arnhem Land. This ceremony involves the placing of the deceased’s bones into a hollow log until it slowly
decayed over many years.
The log is made from a termite hollowed Stringy bark tree (Eucalyptus tetradonta) and is decorated with totemic emblems.
The western Arnhem Land version of the Lorrkon ceremony involves the singing of sacred songs to the accompaniment of
Karlikarli, a pair of sacred boomerangs used as rhythm instruments.
During the final evening of the ceremony, dancers decorate themselves with kapok down, or today, cotton wool and
conduct much of the final segments of the ceremony in the secrecy of a restricted men’s’ camp. The complete ceremony
may stretch over a period of two weeks, but on the last night the bones of the deceased, which have been kept in a bark
container or today wrapped in cloth and kept in a suitcase are taken out, are painted with red ochre and placed inside the
hollow log. This ceremony may take place many years after the person has died.
At first light on the final morning of the Lorrkon ceremony, the men appear, coming out of their secret bush camp carrying
the pole towards the women’s camp. The two groups call to each other using distinct ceremonial calls. The women have
prepared a hole for the pole to be placed into and when it is stood upright, women in particular kinship relationships to the
deceased dance around the pole in a jumping/shuffling motion. The Lorrkon is then often covered with a tarpaulin and left
slowly to decay.