Lot 44
  • 44

Libundja 1912-1968

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Libundja
  • Untitled, Mokuy Figure
  • Natural earth pigments on carved wood
  • 81cm high


Executed at Milingimbi, Crocodile Islands, Central Arnhem Land in the 1960s
Private collection
Sotheby's, Aboriginal and Oceanic Art, Sydney, 25 November, 2007, lot 35 (AU
Fiona Brockhoff, Melbourne

Catalogue Note

Cf. For a similar figure by the same hand and dating from the 1960s, formerly in the Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, now in the National Gallery of Victoria, see Bernhard Lüthi et al., Aratjara: Art of the First Australians, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Cologne, 1993 p.161, pl.32; Mundine, D., J. Rudder, B. Murphy et al., The Native Born: Objects and representations from Ramingining, Arnhem Land, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1999, p.66, for a photograph of a similar figure in situ at Milingimbi in 1962.

Naturalistic mortuary figures or Mokuy made on Milingimbi after 1946 are derived from square-sectioned post-like grave posts, a form of sculpture influenced by the Macassans who regularly visited the shores of Arnhem Land for some 300 years up to the beginning of the 20th Century. This figure features a pointed chin, characteristic of Macassan beards or goatees, raised 'ears', ceremonial markings across the face, the torso covered in ritual designs which terminate above the protruding knees. The body painting patterns are composed in bands of miny'tji or clan designs, of the Gupapuynga Dhuwa moiety from the artist’s mother. The black rectangle painted on the figure's chest most likely represents a clan waterhole and emphasises the connection between the person represented and the traditional lands from which their spiritual identity emanates; the clan waterhole is not only the repository of the souls of yet-to-be-born clan members, but also of their spirit after death.