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Wondjina In Australian mythology, primal beings who appear in various myths that take place during Ungud (dreamtime). Most Wondjina transform themselves into rock paintings while their spirits inhabit some sacred water hole. The natives frequently retouch these sacred paintings to promote rains or to stimulate fertility. When a person dies his body is painted with red ochre and placed in the cave where his clan’s Wondjina resides; the dead man’s spirit descends to a nearby pool to await rebirth. Paintings of the Wondjina range from a few feet to 16 feet. Painted against a white ground, the head is outlined in red or yellow. The first nonaborigine to see and comment on them was Sir George Grey in 1838. He interpreted them as priests with halos. The eyes and nose of the Wondjina are linked. No mouth is portrayed because it is believed that would cause it to rain all of the time. The figures are painted with white stripes symbolizing the rain.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

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