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Repainting of images on rock in Australia and the maintenance of Aboriginal culture

  • David Mowaljarlai (a1), Patricia Vinnicombe (a2), Graeme K. Ward (a3) and Christopher Chippindale (a4)


Sandra Bowdler reported in the last issue of ANTIQUITY (62: 517–23) on the controversy surrounding the recent repainting of Wandjina figures on the rocks of the western Kimberley, northwest Australia. Here is an Aboriginal Australian's view of the repainting project and its significance, along with an explication and further discussion of implications.



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Blundell, V.J. & Layton, R.. 1978. Marriage, myth and models of exchange in the West Kimberleys, Mankind 11: 23145.
Bowdler, S. 1988. Repainting Australian rock art, Antiquity 62: 51723.
Clarke, J. 1978. Deterioration analysis of rock art sites, in Rock art conservation: a review of a research project December 1973 to December 1978.
Crawford, I.M. 1968. The art of the Wandjina. Mebourne: Oxford University Press.
Elkin, A.P. 1931. Rock paintings in north west Australia, Oceania 1: 25779.
Forge, A. 1973. Introduction, in Forge, A. (ed.), Primitive art as society. London: Oxford University Press.
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Jones, R. (ed.). 1985. Archaeological research in Kakadu National Park. xsCanberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. Special publication 13.
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Lommel, A. & Lommel, K.. 1959. The art of the fifth continent-Australia. Munich: Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde.
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Malnic, Y. & Mowaljarlai, D.. In preparation. The spirit of the Kimberley.
Mowaljarlai, D. & Peck, C.. 1987. Ngarinyin cultural continuity: a project to teach the young people our culture, including the re-painting of Wandjina rock and sites, Australian Aboriginal Studies 1987(2): 718.
Mowaljarlai, D. & Watson, R.. 1987. Address to Rock Art Protection Programme meeting of 9 October 1987 about the Gibb River Repainting Project. Unpublished transcript in AIAS library.
Randolph, P. & Clarke, J.. 1987. Wanang Ngari CEP Project assessment; investigation of a complaint that repainting of Ngarinyin rock art sites is an act of desecration. (Report to WA Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.) xsPerth (WA): Department of Aboriginal Sites, Western Australian Museum.
Robinson, M.V. 1986. The Aboriginal heritage and environmental management, in McDavitt, C. (ed.), Towards a State conservation strategy: invited review papers: 199203. Perth (WA): WA Department of Conservation and Environment. Bulletin 251.

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Repainting of images on rock in Australia and the maintenance of Aboriginal culture

  • David Mowaljarlai (a1), Patricia Vinnicombe (a2), Graeme K. Ward (a3) and Christopher Chippindale (a4)


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