Nym Bandak was born around 1903 and grew up to be a influential bark painting artist and cultural elder of the Murrinhapatha people. He lived most his life around Port Keats (Wadeye) and had strong cultural contacts with inland desert groups. This relationship with inland desert aboriginals is evident in many of his best works which have concentric circles depicting waterholes within his clans lands. The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal bark painting is by Nym Bandak by comparing examples of his work.
If you have a Nym Bandak bark painting to sell please contact me. If you just want to know what your bark painting is worth to me please feel free to send me a Jpeg because I would love to see it.
Nym Bandak worked closely with the well known anthropologist W. E. Stanner who he first met in 1935. It is partially due to this 50 year relationship with Stanner that Nym Bunduks artworks are so well documented.
Nym Bandak has several recurring features within his works and these include Ku Wandatji, the Rock Python an ancestor Nyms clan, fish and fresh water birds. Several of his paintings are not on oval shape bark usually associated with the Port Keats style.
Nym Bandak is also referred to in some sales as just Nym
The Majority of Port Keats bark painting artists names were never recorded and Nym Bandak along with Charlie Brinken Indji Tharwul, Charlie Mardigan, Charlie rock Ngumbe and Bobyin Nongah are among the only artists named.
Nym was of Murrinh-patha tribe who were engaged in a long-running conflict with inland groups. Nym in his youth gained a reputation as a clever spear fighter. Nym and his kinsmen travelled extensively, beyond the Victoria River to the eastern Kimberley. There he witnessed and participated in ceremonies among other Aboriginal groups and was exposed to new ideas about cultural form, symbolism, and design.
The Port Keats mission was established on Nyms land in 1935. By this time he was a fully initiated man with a number of wives. The missionaries discouraged traditional practices so to appease them Bandak lived with one wife while in the mission, but with all of his wives and children outside the mission. He managed his cultural life in a similar fashion. Even though he and his contemporaries attended church they also practised their own culture in secret.
The missionaries encouraged Bandak and other artists such as Jarri, Mardigan, Birari, Indji and Tjimari to paint on bark and create artefacts for sale. Nym used bark painting to express cultural concepts found in Murrinh-patha culture. His small bark paintings were in the shape of churingas used within the ceremonies discouraged by the church. His bark painting themes were inspired by secret Murrinh-patha cultural knowledge. The barks celebrated the Dreamings and sacred sites which gave meaning to the lives of Bandak and his kinsmen.
Nym Bandak Bark painting images
The following aboriginal bark painting by Nym Bandak are not a complete list of his works but do give a very good idea of the style of this artist.
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