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The Rainbow Serpent


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The Rainbow Serpent is one of the most important Creator Beings in the entirety of Aboriginal Dreamtime mythology. It believed that the worship of the Rainbow Serpent represents the world’s oldest continuous religious tradition. The Rainbow Serpent (or Rainbow Snake) is a common motif and character in Aboriginal art and mythology. The stories of the Rainbow Serpent vary from region to region, explaining why it can be worshipped as a Creator Being in most of Australia, but also as an antagonist by the Bundjalung Nation. George Caloupka, the biggest authority of Arnhem Land rock art, writes: The Australian Aboriginal people believe the universe has two aspects - the physical world in which we live and another connected world from which it is derived called the Dreamtime.

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The Rainbow Serpent

  1. 1. Dreamtime Australian Aboriginal Art
  2. 2. The expression “dreamtime” is often used to refer to the “time before time” , or “the time of the creation of all things”, while “ Dreaming” is often used to refer to an individual's or group's beliefs. Sometimes creating their surroundings and sometimes changing into animals or people, the Dreamtime reflected the events and characters of daily life in the Australian desert. The Dreamtime for Aboriginal people is the time which the earth received its present form and in which the patterns and cycles of life begun.
  3. 4. The Rainbow Serpent is a consistent theme in Aboriginal painting and has been found in rock art up to 6000 years old. The Rainbow Serpent is a powerful symbol of the creative and destructive power of nature.
  4. 12. Australian Aborigines were almost exterminated by the English colonizers. Today, they represent only 1% of the Australian population, roughly estimated at around 200,000 people. When Captain Cook arrived in 1770, there were about 300,000 of them. The Aborigines inhabited Australia for at least 25,000 years (this was proven by Carbon 14 on paintings left on rocks). At that time, Australia was probably connected with Papua-New Guinea, and had many more rivers and forests in contrast to the desert that it is today.
  5. 14. Most paintings of Rainbow Serpent tell the story of the creation of landscape particular to an artist's birthplace. Some aspects of Rainbow Serpent stories are restricted to initiated persons but generally, the image has been very public.
  6. 15. Today most artists add personal clan designs to the bodies of Rainbow Serpent, symbolizing links between the artist and the land
  7. 20. One of the most important dragons of creation mythology is the Australian Rainbow Serpent, its symbol being the rainbow bridging Heaven and Earth.
  8. 21. The belief in the Rainbow Snake, a personification of fertility, increase (richness in propagation of plants and animals) and rain, is common throughout Australia. It is a creator of human beings, having life-giving powers that send conception spirits to all the waterholes. It is responsible for regenerating rains, and also for storms and floods when it acts as an agent of punishment against those who transgress the law or upset it in any way.
  9. 24. In Dreamtime mythology, the Rainbow Serpent slept beneath the ground until the time of creation. At that time, it awoke and pushed its way to the surface, creating ridges, mountains, and gorges in the process. Since then, the Rainbow Serpent inhabits permanent waterholes and controls water.
  10. 26. Sound : Yanni & David Hudson – Rainmaker Yothu Yindi - World Turning Right Pictures & text: net Arrangement: S anda Foişoreanu