Namarlpe (pandanus spirit) & kuluban (fruit bats)

Graham Badari2009

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

Namarlpe is the name of the malevolent pandanus spirit, which the Kunwinjku believe inhabits the box pandanus. The women of western Arnhem Land are wary of him and avoid passing close to box pandanus when they are pregnant as it is believed that Namarlpe can capture the spirit of the unborn child and keep it trapped in his burble (dilly bag). The child is born weak and sickly and only when the pandanus where Namarlpe is hiding is cut or burned down will the child’s spirit be released and its health regained. At the top of the bark, Graham has painted sleeping kuluban (flying foxes) hanging from the bough of a tree. Kuluban, with their pungent and gamey flesh, are a food source for the Indigenous people of Arnhem Land. Graham Badari’s work balances faithful dedication to the visual language of ancient local rock art and a commitment to the stylistic development of the genre. Whether he is painting additional stories passed down to him by his elders or rendering non-secular imagery of animals in the characteristic west Arnhem Land x-ray style, Graham’s work is meticulous and fluid.—Injalak Arts and Crafts Association © Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory


  • Title: Namarlpe (pandanus spirit) & kuluban (fruit bats)
  • Creator: Graham Badari
  • Creator Lifespan: 1963
  • Creator Nationality: Australian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: 2009
  • Type: Bark Painting
  • Rights: Purchased 2009, Telstra Collection, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory © licensed by Injalak Arts and Craft
  • Medium: natural pigments on bark
  • Geographical Region of Artist: Maburrinj, North-east Arnhem Land
  • Exhibition: 26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 2009
  • Ethnic Language Group: Kunwinjku/Mayali
  • Dimensions: 240 x 35 cm
  • Collection: Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art
  • Artist Ethnicity: Aboriginal

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