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Diidja Early Oenpelli Bark paintings

Diidja was an early bark painter in the Oenpelli region. He only has a few known works because he died before bark painting became commercial.

The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal bark painting is by Diidja. It compares the few known examples of his work. Diidja painted in an Oenpelli Bark Painting style

If you have a Diidja bark painting to sell please contact me. If you just want to know what your bark painting is worth to me please feel free to send me a Jpeg. I would love to see it.


Diidja painted bark paintings in an archaic Arnhem Land Rock Art style full of power and spirituality. Only a few examples of his work a known but they are so powerful I think he deserves recognition as an important artist. Both barks have irregular edges and have an early collection date. He died before barks were commercially collected in the 1960’s which accounts for why so few of his work exist.


Hos barks deal with figures from the spirit world and are on an ochre background with white kaolin figures covered in fine red dots. His work exhibits a freedom and flow that I find highly desirable in a great bark painting.


His bark paintings can only really be compared to other very early Oenpelli artists like Najombolmi or Nym Djimurrgurr.


Diidja belonged to the Kunwinjku people in Western Arnhem Land and was born around 1900 and died in 1963. Along with many other Arnhem Land Artists who did bark paintings, there is not a lot of information available about Diidja / Mandidja. If anyone knows more information about the biography of Diidja please contact me as I would like to add it to this article.

Diidja is also called Madidja | Mandidi | Mandidaidai.


Namorrordo: Malicious Spirit of the Shooting Star

‘In large holes in the vast, rocky Arnhem Land plateau, which the Aborigines refer to as “the stone country” live malicious spirits called Namarnde or namorrordo. These are long-haired people with very thin bodies (“just a little muscle over their bones”) and long, slender fingers tipped with long nails.

Namarnde are considered to be dangerous to humans. In the daytime, they stay quietly in their cool holes in the stone country. At dusk they begin to prowl abroad, uttering high-pitched cry: “Go-wed!”. After nightfall, they go on a “sneaking walkabout” across the sky, looking for a solitary, sleeping Aborigine whose liver and kidney they will remove. This is a practice also favoured by malicious human sorcerers: when the victim awakens, there is no mark on his or her body. In three or four days the person dies.

Namarnde were sometimes glimpsed on their prowls by the ‘old people’ (past generations), who would subsequently paint the image on a rock face or on the inner walls of their bark huts so as to show people what a namurrordo looked like.

Today namorrordo are always invisible to people except when, during their night-time prowls in the sky, they show themselves for a few seconds as a falling star divided across the heavens.

The packing aboriginal bark painting is best done by an expert. If you need to make a box, make it so that is of an inflexible material with the bark painting floating inside the box on foam beads or bubble wrap.

Care for Aboriginal Bark Painting by ensuring it always stays dry and does not move as ochres can flake off. A bark painting is best stored in a dust-free place and away from insects.

All images in this article are for educational purposes only.

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Western Arnhem land Artists and Artworks

Diidja Bark Painting images

The following images are not a complete list of the artist’s works but give some idea of his style and variety.

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