Wandjinas are sacred.
Wandjinas are only found in the Kimberley region (north-eastern Western Australia), nowhere else in Australia.
They are deeply spiritual to the people of this area, the Mowanjum people, who comprise three language groups, the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal.
To these people, the Wandjina is the supreme Creator and a symbol of fertility and rain. Their ancestors have been painting Wandjina (also spelled wanjina) and Gyorn Gyorn (also called Gwion Gwion) figures in rock art sites scattered throughout the western Kimberley for millennia. This is the oldest continuous sacred painting movement on the planet.
Unique to the Mowanjum people, Wandjinas (pronounced ‘wannias’) have large eyes, like the eye of a storm, but no mouth. It is said they have no mouth because that would make them too powerful. They are often depicted with elaborate headdresses, indicating different types of storms.
To the Mowanjum people, the elegant, elongated figures of the Gyorn Gyorn depict their long-ago ancestors, before the Wandjinas brought the law. Gyorn Gyorn paintings in rock art sites have been dated at 20,000 years and are often over-painted with Wandjinas and other imagery. These figures are sometimes known as Bradshaws.