The Maliwawa Figures

Ancient Art: The Maliwawa Figures (November 13 Night Thread)

Aboriginal art in Australia can be dated back as far as thirty thousand years, the oldest confirmed rock paintings in the world.

The Maliwawa Figures

In Western Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, there resides a vast collection of curious paintings discovered only this century, and numbering in the hundreds, in rock shelters dotted around the area. The large paintings of human figures and animals have been named the Maliwawa Figures and were publicised across the world in September of 2020.

They have been described as very different from the other rock paintings found elsewhere, suggesting they were created by artists of a whole other culture. The paintings are sometimes life-size, although there are also some small ones (20–50 cm in height). Various lines of evidence suggest the figures most likely date to between 6,000 to 9,400 years of age.

There is a mixture of human and animal images depicted. The humans wearing nothing other than headdresses, whilst the animals include wallabies, the marsupial known as a bilby with its long snout and pointed ears. and even a dugong. This has been described as “unusual” considering the distance of the caves from the ocean.

The people in their headdresses are shown dancing hand in hand with the animals, as if their relationship with their local wildlife far more harmonious than any we might have today.

Enjoy your night and join me tomorrow for another example of ancient art!