X-ray paintings are typical of the Aboriginal paintings which can be seen in the Wet Season caves and rock overhangs where the communities lived during the floods and heavy rains. The paintings span centuries and are frequently painted, layer over layer, by succeeding generations of artists.
Some of the themes can be narrowed to particular time eg images of guns will only occur after the mid-19th century. Paintings of sailing ships may be more ambiguous as it’s known that the Macassan traders worked the northern coast of the Northern Territory. What’s interesting to me, is that these drawings aren’t by people who lived right beside the ocean, rather a little inland.
Only specific people within the community who had the traditional responsibility could “touch up” the important paintings, which I believe was last done nearly 50 years ago. It’s interesting to me to look at photos taken back in 1991 when I first visited, with some taken last month. Paintings were a form of history keeping as well as telling cultural traditions and animals to hunt.
I’m not going to try to explain the intricacies of the X Ray Paintings as I’m no expert. There’s an article here by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The style of painting is still reflected in some art work by Arnhem Land artists.
My photographs are taken at two sites, both in Kakadu National Park. One is Ubirr and the other is Nourlangie (or Burrunggui). There are a couple of galleries in each place, and it’s well worth visiting each. Do take time to sit down and have a breather and a sip of water. The longer you look, the more pictures you’ll see. At Nourlangie’s Anbangbang gallery, the iconic image of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man is the most popular feature.
Archeologists have dated Nourlangie’s Anbangbang gallery as having been in use for over 20,000 years. So much for Australia being a young country!
Why visit: to see ancient art tell a story of life before white settlement, and stories of traditional culture and hunting.
The closer we get to the end of the alphabet, the fewer options for Aussie-isms, perhaps we really are lazy after all!
Today I leave you with a beer closely associated with my home state of Queensland:
XXXX: Fourex beer is manufactured on Milton Rd in Brisbane, close to the famous Lang Park Rugby League grounds. XXXX is a Qld icon!