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Rover (Julama) Thomas

Mook Mook the Owl Woman - 1995

synthetic polymer paint & natural earth pigment on canvas
102 x 183 cm
Price Realised: $43,920.00

MP #637


Provenance

Painted by Rover Thomas during his residency at the Burrinja Gallery, Upwey, Dandenongs, 1995
Private Collection, Vic

Owls are central figures in Kimberley cosmology, said to have instituted many important cultural practices. They are connected to the Wandjina creator beings. The Wandjina are predominant in western and northern Kimberley, however, not so much in the east, where Rover Thomas lived and painted.

The Mook Mook Owl is a major feature of the Krill Krill ceremony, created by Rover Thomas and Paddy Jaminji in the late 1970s. The owl is found in a cave at the Blue Tongue Lizard Dreaming site, adjacent to Pompei Pillar near the turnoff to the Argyle Diamond Mine. The cave site is called Tunnel Creek. Owls are said to be associated with birth and death amongst Gija people.

In the Narrangunny (Dreaming story), an Aboriginal woman was sitting at a waterhole fishing for bream. After catching a few fish, she heard a fearsome noise coming from above. Thinking it was the 'devil-devil', she threw everything in the air and ran to her camp screaming. A few of the community's bravest men were dispatched to investigate the frightening sound. What they found while checking a small cave above the fishing hole were owls, 'damboyn', sitting in the darkness making their 'mook-mook' call; the sound was merely amplified by the cave walls.