Kinga (Saltwater Crocodile)
The artist has depicted kinga, the saltwater or estuarine crocodile.
Kinga is a highly respected and feared animal that has significance as a food source and as a totem to many of the Kunwinjku people (the Aboriginal people of Western Arnhem Land).
Kinga are estuarine reptiles and although described as ‘saltwater crocodiles’ they are frequently found in billabongs and freshwater rivers throughout Western Arnhem Land where the artist lives.
Kinga usually eats fish, reptiles and crustaceans, although it has a reputation for attacking birds and mammals.
Saltwater crocodiles mate early in the wet season and about sixty eggs are laid in nests on riverbanks above the floodwaters. Also depicted in the print is one of the many species of water lilies, called Mandem, that abound in the rivers and billabongs of Arnhem Land. The artist has used the classic Kunwinjku ‘x-ray’ style, with internal organs of the animal and the roots and tubers of the plants showing. The ‘rarrk’ or cross hatching filling the rest of the body of the crocodile is symbolic of the sacred body design of the artist’s clan.