Thuwathu the Rainbow Serpent (the bridge between transcendental and totemic powers) has huge knees, great horns and long penis. In one story the Willy Wagtail mother, Bulthugu, wanted Rainbow Serpent to make room in a cave so they could shelter from a storm. Rainbow serpent refused so Bulthugu set the Serpent alight. He crawled away with the rainbow colours burnt, his great jaws ploughing up the earth to make rivers and vomiting new life such as crabs, insects, goanna, wallaby etc. As he crawled ribs fell from his blistered body and boomerang trees grew in the place where the ribs landed. His spirit lives in every waterhole and his eyes follow the world in each shooting star. At initiation boys learn stories of Thuwathu the Rainbow Serpent.
This representation of the Rainbow Serpent is carved from fossilised wood with Chrysophrase eyes and a pearl in the mouth. The eyes are recessed into the body and held in place by the gold foil bezel.
In the Australian Aboriginal dreamtime stories Wandjina is one of the names for the all-father or great-spirit figure. The Wandjina is represented by a halo type head with two eyes and long straight line for the nose. The Wandjina appears on rock wall and cave paintings in a number of locations throughout Australia but mainly in the Kimberley region of north-west Australia. In contrast to western religious beliefs the Wandjina can be many of the same figure at any one time and is why multiple images of the Wandjina can be seen in the one painting location.
The Wandjina featured here was carved in black agate and filled with gold foil.
The Wungudd snake is from the story of mahmah and initiation. In the Australian Indigenous dreamtime all boys undergo initiation. The boys are taken to a secret location and are forbidden to disturb the natural area, touch the image of Wandjina or disturb the pool of wungudd water for fear that Wandjina and the Wungudd snakes will emerge angrily from the water. An Ngarinyin elder says “You see all these snakes? These are Wungudd snakes and Wandjina.
This carving was created on a piece of lava-stone where the surface was left in its natural state complete with ripples, glass surface and micro crystal structures.