Lot: 77

91 Tribal Art Auction

Sculpture of a "mimih" spirit

Kuningbal, Crusoe (1922-1984), Western Arnhem Land, Kuninjku

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
H: 36.2 inch 1200 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, red, white and black pigment, base "Mimihs" are spirit beings that appear in the Dreamtime stories of the Aborigines of Arnhem Land. The human-like beings are described as having extremely thin and elongated bodies, so thin as to be in danger of breaking in case of a high wind. To avoid this, they usually spend most of their time living in rock crevices. As soon as danger threatens, they withdraw themselves into their rock realm, disappear between the columns or merge with the stone. They are said to have taught the Aborigines how to hunt and prepare kangaroo meat. But there are also myths that they led hunters to their rock realm and the hunters fell in love with "mimih" women and did not return. The artist Crusoe Kuningbal transformed the figures, which had previously only been depicted in petroglyphs, into sculptural forms. As such, they became part of a ceremony practiced by the Kuninjku Aborigines, which is called "mamurrng" and shows the theme of life and death. This ceremony is performed by them when other Aboriginal people come to their country, or after the birth of a boy.