Rainbow colour and power among the Waanyi of Northwest Queensland
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In 2002, an investigation into the rock art of Waanyi country was undertaken in conjunction with ongoing archaeological excavation. Various subjects, styles and techniques were documented, associated oral history from Waanyi elders was recorded and the relationship to archaeological deposits was assessed. A large number of rainbow-like designs, in red or red-and-yellow, were recorded, along with a magnificent and very large red-and yellow Rainbow Serpent. These and other images are discussed in relation to the travels of Ancestral Beings, stories and uses of coloured pigment and the use of local stone for both tools and the situating of important spiritual sites. Links to a network of other communities across northern and central Australia are highlighted. It is concluded that colour played a fundamental role in both expressing and maintaining relationships to places, Ancestral Beings and other groups of people. Important local differences can be seen in comparison to the ways in which colour has been used by Aboriginal people elsewhere. The research highlights ways in which the study of colour can prove valuable to archaeology globally.
Cambridge Archaeological Journal
Copyright 2008 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.