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Wanjinas, the other art style for which the Kimberley has long been famous, were first recorded by the explorer George Grey in the Kimberley in 1837 (Grey 1841:201-205, 213-215). George Grey’s Wanjina sites are found in the Glenelg River area.
The better known Wanjina art, found predominantly in the northwestern and central areas of the Kimberley, is associated directly with the indigenous myths, traditions and contemporary communities of the area. At least 4,000 years old, it is a living art form representing ancestral beings originating in the sea and the sky. Images of Wanjina are characterised by halo-like headdresses and mouthless faces with large round eyes, fringed with eyelashes, set either side of an ovate nose. The large scale, and solid or static appearance of the Wanjina art contrasts with the Gwion art, with its more delicate images of a usually smaller scale, and its less tangible connection with contemporary indigenous culture.
To learn more about Wanjina art visit Wanjina: Notes on Some Iconic Ancestral Beings of the Northern Kimberley