Nyapanyapa Yunupingu

Larrakitj - hollow log pole

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu - Larrakitj - hollow log pole

born 1945
lives and works in Yirrkala, NT
Larrakitj - hollow log pole  2019
ochre on Stringybark pole
249cm x 18cm
Acquired in 2019

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu is woman of small stature, but big on style.  Her art practice is quite independent of any bark-painting tradition within the Arnhem Land region. She is the daughter of the famous cultural leader Munggurrawuy Yunupingu and sister to Galarrwuy and Mandawuy, both Australians of the Year. She is a widow and was the wife of Djiriny Manunggur, a Djapu clan leader.  Franchesca Cubillo, in Undisclosed: 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2012.

Yirrkala-based painter Nyapanyapa Yunupingu is one of Australia's leading contemporary indigenous artists and enjoys an international reputation.   

Foremost among the works of Indigenous art in the Wesfarmers Collection are a selection of hollow log poles by artists of Maningrida and Yirrkala communities of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Hollow log poles are traditionally known as Lorrkon in the community of Maningrida and Larrakitj in the community of Yirrkala.

Today, Lorrkon/Larrakitj are made as works of art - but their original purpose is founded in the mortuary traditions of Arnhem Land culture. The Lorrkon/Larrakitj 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 decorated with painted clan designs and ceremonially placed into the ground where it remained until it slowly decayed over many years. The log is made from a termite-hollowed Stringybark tree (Eucalyptus tetradonta) and decorated with totemic emblems.


© Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, Buku-Larrngay Mulka Art Centre, Yirrkala