< Wp‎ | nys
Wp > nys > Wandjina



Wandjina rock art (pronounced as 'Wannia')[1] are sacred paintings made by Aboriginal people in the Kimberley. This rock art goes back many thousands of years.[2] Today, it is unique to those from the Mowanjum community in the Kimberley, which includes people from three main language groups - the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal. Following proper cultural protocol, only Aboriginal people who have gone through the law after years of initiations and ceremonies are are allowed to use and portray Wandjinas. It is inappropriate to take a photo or copy of a Wandjina except with the express permission of a responsible elder, so no Wandjina image is shown on this page.

Inappropriate use of Wandjina

  • Some Western artists inappropriately appropriate Wandjina figures in their art. This is a clear breach of traditional law and possibly even breaks Western Intellectual Property (IP) law. Australian courts do give some protection to Aboriginal art, a notable case being when a court upheld a decision by the Blue Mountains City Council to remove a Wandjina statue because of the offence being caused to Aboriginal elders.
  • The documentary film "Who Paintin’ Dis Wandjina?" is about the hundreds of graffiti images of Wandjinas spray-painted in and around Perth.[3] In the film, elders express concern about the Wandjinas being taken to Perth. They are ‘hurt’ by the thoughtless use of a symbol which has to have a story and a meaning behind it in order to be replicated.

Ngiyan waarnk

  1. Jens Korff. "What are Wandjinas?". Creative Spirits. Updated 31 August 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2018
  2. Erin Parke. "Aboriginal art depicting Wandjina figure that sparked aliens theory to be reclaimed by traditional owners". ABC News. 4 December 2016 Retrieved 26 June 2020
  3. "Who Paintin’ Dis Wandjina?". Creative Spirits. Updated 23 August 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2018