Extraordinary Back-to-Back Human and Animal Figures in the Art of Western Arnhem Land, Australia: One of the World's Largest Assemblages

Paul S.C. Taçon, Sally K. May, Joakim Goldhahn, Luke Taylor, Liam M. Brady, Alex Ressel, Andrea Jalandoni, Daryl Wesley, Gabriel Maralngurra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Depictions of mythical beings appear in many different forms of art world-wide, including rock art of various ages. In this paper we explore a particular type of imagery, back-to-back figures, consisting of two human-like figures or animals of the same species next to each other and facing in opposite directions. Some human-like doubles were joined at the back rather than side-by-side, but also face opposite directions. In this paper, we report on new research on rock art, bark paintings and recent paintings on paper and chart a 9000-year history of making aesthetically, symbolically and spiritually powerful back-to-back figures in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalCAMBRIDGE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Early online date22 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Rock art
  • Arnhem Land
  • Cultural Heritage

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