• 18. Ṉirriwan, 2018 (8/30)

Ms M. Wirrpanda

18. Ṉirriwan, 2018 (8/30)


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These are ṉirriwan the next most well known after the ṉamura and the best known of all mekawu the ordinary rock oyster known and appreciated by all. These ṉirriwan are specifically shown as individuals attached to rocks. This species most spectacular manifestation is growing as clumps attached to the single stem aerial roots dangling from the branches of the mangroves into the tide when it is high.

By boat or at low tide a single swipe with the knife severs the bunch and delivers up to 50 fat oysters on each stem. Which are then smoked over the fire until they open and eaten until capacity is reached. Ṉirriwan Saccostrea sycphophilla, S. mordax Milky Oyster According to the bible the Maypal book 'When ṉirriwan are found on the roots of mangrove trees they are called bomiḻa' but this may be a Western Yolŋu differentiation.

    • Etching on paper
    • Dimensions: 49.1cm x 31.6cm artwork on 66cm x 50cm paper
    • Cat No. 3765-18-8/30

Mulkun Wirrpanda was a senior artist of the Dhudi-Djapu clan from Dhuruputjpi in Eastern Arnhem Land and was a classificatory daughter of the late Dhäkiyarr Wirrpanda and mother (by kinship) to senior artist and clan leader Djambawa Marawili. Wirrpanda painted Dhudi-Djapu miny’ji (sacred designs) that depicted her land at Dhuruputjpi, including the areas of Yalata and Darrangi. As the eldest and most knowledgeable of her clan, she was acknowledged as a leader, one of the few Yolnu women to have this status. Wirrpanda was an early practitioner of works without figurative imagery within the miny’tji (sacred clan design) – until recently restricted to ceremonial use – using natural earth pigments (Ochres). She painted on bark, ‘Larrakitj’ (memorial poles), ‘Yidaki’ (didgeridoo) and was a talented carver, weaver and print maker.



Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre is the Indigenous community controlled art centre of Northeast Arnhem Land. Located in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community on the northeastern tip of the Top End of the Northern Territory, approximately 700km east of Darwin. The primarily Yolŋu (Aboriginal) staff of around twenty services Yirrkala and the approximately twenty-five homeland centres in the radius of 200km.

In the 1960’s, Narritjin Maymuru set up his own beachfront gallery from which he sold art that now graces many major museums and private collections. He is counted among the art centre’s main inspirations and founders, and his picture hangs in the museum. His vision of Yolŋu-owned business to sell Yolŋu art that started with a shelter on a beach has now grown into a thriving business that exhibits and sells globally.

Today Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre consists of two divisions; the Yirrkala Art Centre which represents Yolŋu artists exhibiting and selling contemporary art and The Mulka Project which acts as a digital production studio and archiving centre incorporating the museum.




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