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Dick Murrumurru Rock Artist to Bark Artist

Dick Murrumurru was born around 1920 at Kukadjerri. He grew up in the rock country at the headwaters of the Liverpool River. His style of bark painting remained true to its rock painting origins throughout his life. He was a prolific bark painter who lived in and around Oenpelli during the 1960s and 1970s. The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal bark painting is by Dick Murrumurru. It includes many examples of his work.


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

Early bark paintings by Murrumurru have very fine painted parallel Rarrk. They are in x-ray style distinct to Oenpelli. His bark paintings are similar in quality to the more famous Lofty Nadjamerrek. His paintings of figures are in some cases superior in quality to Loftys. He was a superb draftsman with acute powers of observation. His finely detailed paintings suggest volume and have a three dimensional feel to them.

Murrumurru preferred using a solid red ochre background. His animals and figures white with details in red and yellow and sometimes black. He was not afraid to leave large areas monochrome. On earlier barks where there is line work it is intense parallel lines done with great skill and not much cross-hatching. His later works use more cross-hatching and have less open spaces.

Murrumurru figures have a distinctive face shape with large open mouths and eyes at the very top of the head. He has also painted Namarrkon the lightning spirit.


In his later years Dick Murrumurru lived at Malgawo, close to his own Bularlhdja clan lands. He passed in 1988. If anyone has further information about Dick’s life I would love to hear from them so I can add it to this article.

Dick Murrumurru can also be spelled Dick Murru Murru, Dick Murra Murra, or Dick Murramurra

References and Extra Reading

Keepers of the secrets: Aboriginal art from Arnhemland

Crossing Country: The Alchemy of Western Arnhemland art

Dick Murrumurru Artwork values

My Database contains 79 artworks by Dick that vary in value from $200 AUD – $22,000 AUD.
Many factors go into influencing the value of an artwork, but the visual image and subject are important. The provenance, date painted size and importance of the work within the canon of work are also often crucial factors
If you have Dick Murrumurru artwork and wish to get a valuation please send me an image. Please include the size and any labels or extra information available.

Luma Luma

Luma Luma instilled fear in the first peoples, as his absolute authority was coupled with a degree of greed which was to be his downfall. Whatever foods his wives collected and cooked, he would declare to be taboo, thus they were not allowed to eat them. While the men were away on their hunting expeditions, he would sleep with their wives. Some of the husbands sought retribution but were no match for Luma Luma.
The ancestors of the Kunwinjku and Kuninjku decided to take their revenge on the giant. They laid a trap and the giant killed by fire. As he burned, the clansmen peppered his body with spears.  Here Murramurra shows the giant being speared after eating someones wife.

Mardayin ceremony

Lumaluma is the main creator figure of the Mardayin ceremony. He made all the ceremonial paintings used by dancers in the Mardayin ceremony.
Lumaluma’s body with these designs made him glistened with Ancestral power. When aboriginal initiates get painted with these designs, their bodies receive a measure of this original power.
Lumaluma also made and was made into all the sacred objects used in the Mardayin ceremony. According to law his very body was cut into pieces that transformed into the sacred objects.

Luma Luma by Murrumurru painted with ochre on bark

Mimih Hunter and Kangaroo by Murrumurru painted with ochre on bark

Mimih Hunter Dreaming

This painting depicts a traditional story of the meeting of Mimih by a hunter called Djala.

Djala and his heavily pregnant wife lived near the rocky escarpment known to be the home of the Mimih. The Mimih was a tall but very slender form of spirit people who lived hidden in caves and had dangerous magic.

Djala went hunting and was tracking a large kangaroo and near sunset, he discovered a Mimih had killed the kangaroo he was tracking. Having seen the Mimih kill the kangaroo with his spear Djala complimented the Mimih on his skill. The Mimih called Kaman invited Djala back to his camp to share in the kangaroo meat. Djala was hesitant because he knew the legend that if a Mimih came in possession of your hair or sperm they could work magic on him.

The Mimih blew upon a rockface and it split in two leaving a passage to the Mimih secret glade. In the grassy glade Kangaroos grazed unfrightened and at the far end of the glade was a cave. In front of the cave other Mimih were singing and dancing. The Mimih women were larger and fuller with large firm breasts. Kaman the Mimih introduced the human visitor and instructed his wives to cook.

Realizing if he ate the magical food he would never leave the camp and see his wife again Djala tried to leave. He asked politely if he could take a section of the kangaroo and walk back to his camp. Kaman put him off and insisted he stays the night. With Mimih women singing he fell to sleep into a deep sleep in the cave. He awoke feeling the fingers of Kaman’s wives stroking him all over. He faked sleep knowing that if they knew he was awake he would be seduced and become one of them.

In the early morning by the light of the stars, Djala crept out of the Mimih cave and glade and returned home to his wife.


Ngarrbek, the Echidna, is an important species that features in the Yabbadurruwa ceremony. A ceremony performed by Kuninjku people. Kuninjku perform two major regional ceremonies, the Kunabibbi and Yabbadurruwa.. The two ceremonies are a pair whereby different social groups have reciprocal roles to play. The ceremonies articulate themes of Ancestral creation.
The ceremonies maintain the cycle of the seasons, and, in particular, the general fertility brought to the world by the coming of the wet season. There is an important Kuninjku creation story of the battle between Ngarrbek and Ngalmangiyi. Ngarrbek had a young baby of the Kodjok subsection that was eaten by Ngalmangiyi and this precipitated their battle. Ngalmangiyi had many spears and Ngarrbek possessed a grindstone. During their fight Ngalmangiyi threw many spears into the body of Ngarrbek that later transformed into its spines.

The Rainbow Serpent

There are three known Rainbow Serpents in western Arnhem Land. The most powerful one is the Jingana, the Mother Serpent, who lives either underground or in lagoons covered in waterlilies. In the earliest times, Jingana became dissatisfied with the shapes of the inhabitants populating the area. Creatures were half human, half bird, fish, or animal. So she swallowed everything and then regurgitated them in the forms they bear today.

During the dry season, the serpents stay sheltered in their waterlily billabongs. At the beginning of the wet, they sit up on the storm clouds which they have created from the vapor from their mouths. Thunder rolls across the skies as they growl, forked lightning is their flicking tongues. When the same tongues prick the stormclouds, torrential rain descends over Arnhem Land.

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Western Arnhem land Artists and Artworks

Dick Murrumurru Bark painting Images

The following images are not a complete list of bark painting by Dick but give a good feel for the variety and style of this artist.

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