Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard) Dreaming MB006854-Nancy Kunoth Petyarre

Acrylic on Linen
127 x 81cm
Year Painted


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Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard) Dreaming MB006854-Nancy Kunoth Petyarre

The fine dot work throughout this painting represents the thorny skin of the Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard). The Arnkerrthe is a gentle little lizard that is covered in thorns. For added protection it is able to camouflage itself by changing its skin colour with its surroundings. The changing of skin colour is represented in this painting, Nancy says, by the colours used; red and black are Arnkerrthe at night time and yellow and white are Arnkerrthe at day time.

The Arnkerrthe is very sacred to Nancy and the people of Atnangkere country. In the Dreamtime, the Arnkerrthe travelled over Nancy's land creating all of the people, sacred sites, songs and other Dreamtime stories. 'Little lizard put the stories for we mob, for man and woman' (Gloria Petyarre, Nancy's sister, July 2006). In its neck it holds a sac of ochre that Nancy and her people use for ceremonies. The women smear their bodies with animal fat then trace designs onto their breasts, arms and thighs with this ochre; singing as each woman takes her turn to be 'paintedup' for ceremony. Their songs relate to the ancestral travels of the Arnkerrthe as it makes the long journey north to Waramungu country. The main colours used for this ceremony are ochre red and ochre yellow.
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