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Jimmy  Mijau Mijau Crocker Island Bark Painter

The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal bark painting is by Jimmy Mijau Mijau. It compares and discusses examples of his work. He painted bark painting in the Crocker Island style. He used traditional ochre and is a recognized aboriginal bark painter.




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


Jimmy Mijau Mijau is one of the old school artists whose works have a flow to the limbs that has nothing to do with where the joints are. His barks have a great fluidity and lack European convention. Some of his paintings are directly related to sorcery. Sorcery, in this case, is traditional beliefs disliked by Christian missionaries. He belonged to a generation of aboriginal artists who knew their art had a direct magical effect in the real world. His early works can easily be mistaken for those of  Namatbara Wagbara or even Yirawala

Jimmy Mijau Mijau had two very distinct phases of bark painting. His early works were mainly for anthropologists and are extremely traditional. They have strong fields of color; bold outlining in white pigment and animated forms. These early works are very similar to early works by Paddy Compass Namatbara. The faces on his early bark paintings of spirits look more animal than human.

His later works were predominantly made for sale at the mission. In later works, he retains the animated forms but incorporates cross-hatching techniques.   These cross-hatching techniques are traditional to Eastern Arnhem Land. He learned these techniques from Yirawala.

His later works have the distinctive cross-hatching across an often circular face. Many of his late works lack genitalia no doubt coming from Missionary influence.

Jimmy Mijau Mijau did do paintings of animals including Kangaroos, turtles, snake, fish, and echidna. These animal barks are nowhere near as popular with collectors as his spirit figures. He also painted depictions of Namarrkon the Lightning spirit. I like his earlier works for the pure freedom and lack of inhibition and convention.

Bark paintings by Samuel Wagbara are sometime mistaken for the better known Jimmy Mijau Mijau


Very little information is available on this artist. Jimmy was born in Minjilang on Crocker Island around 1897 and died in 1985. He spoke Kuninjku, language. If anyone knows more information about the life of Jimmy I would love to hear from them. I would be more than happy to add it to this article.


Jimmy Mijau Mijau is sometimes spelled  Jimmy Mijaumijau, Jimmy Midjawmidjaw, Midjaw Midjaw, Midjau Midjau or Jimmy Midjaumidjau


Right: Jimmy Mijau Mijau with a bark painting of a Namarrkon Spirit

All images in this article are for educational purposes only.

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The Malamu Dreaming

This painting depicts Malamu a great and powerful sorcerer and his first wife.

Malamu was a rainmaker who could use a pearl shell and some magic to conjure rain. He was much respected and married with three children when he took a second wife. At first, the wives got along but after time jealousy sprang up between them and the arguing began. Malamu would try to resolve the bickering between them but when he did his wives both turned against him and openly scorned him.

He threatened to beat his wives but they laughed and pointed out that if he beat them they would not sleep with him. His clansmen mocked his lack of control of his wives and he was deeply ashamed.

The quarreling continued day after day until Malamu could take it no longer. He took out his magic pearl shell and made a huge rainstorm. The rainstorm caused the water to rise above their camp just as Malamu had planned. He told his wives they would go to higher ground where he knew of a secret cave in which they could camp. At the cave, Malamu left his arguing wives and crossed a river and then using sorcery turned his wives into stone. Days later he regretted his decision and went back to the cave but the magic had worked and his wives had turned into breast-shaped stones.

With all his powers he tried to change the stones back into his wives but he couldn’t. In great sorrow, he then turned himself into stone so he could forever be with his wives.

These stones still exist today on top of a hill called Obirri and the Gunwiggu people know they are the magician and his two wives.

Western Arnhem land Artists and Artworks

Jimmy Mijau Mijau Bark painting Images

The following are images are not a complete list of works by the artist but give a good idea of the style and variety of the artist.

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