Category:

Rainbow Men

$500

2003
Edition of 99
Etching
Image size 54 x 74cm
Paper size 56 x 76cm

The artist was, until his death, the most senior Warlpiri man for this Jukurrpa (Dreaming). The Rain story and that of the old women are interrelated and provide the scenario for many Yilpinji (love magic songs).

Abie’s image shows body adornment designs used to represent Ngapa (water, rain). Pairs of parallel lines representing clouds surround two rainbows (ling wavy lines). Amongst their neighbours, the Kayetj people these symbols represent the two Rainbow Men.

Diane Bell, in her seminal book, ‘Daughters of the Dreaming’, explains that in the narrative the wise rain father, known as Junkaji, attempts to restrain his overly pretentious sons the Rainbow Men. The boys come in to conflict with their older brother, Lightning, while pursuing young girls to whom they are incestuously related.

Rain’s wife, the mother of the boys, finally lures them from the dangers of their exploits by feigning illness. Their duty to their mother overwhelms them and they return at the insistence of their father, only to die.

Important themes of father/son authority flouted and mother duty/devotion/destruction are all revealed through the recounting of this Dreaming. During ritual re-enactment the Rainbow Men embody the alluring attributes that can make a woman leave her own country despite her fierce attachment to it and follow her man far away to his own land.

In ceremonies such as these, men imitate the sparkling, bedazzling qualities of the Rainbow Men by wearing shiny belt buckles or carrying pieces of broken glass, which shimmer and reflect the sun. These are qualities that attract women during ceremony juat as women cover themselves in red ochre rubbed into animal fat so they themselves glisten and radiate good health in order to attract a man.