The Rainbow Serpent

Dick Roughsey, P. Trezise

The Rainbow Serpent
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The Rainbow Serpent

Dick Roughsey, P. Trezise

A timeless classic from the Dreamtime.


There are innumerable names and stories associated with the Rainbow Serpent, all of which communicate the significance of this being within Aboriginal traditions. Dreamtime stories tell how the Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains and gorges as it pushed upward. The name also reflects the snake-like meandering of water across a landscape and the color spectrum sometimes caused by sunlight hitting the water.

Paintings of the Rainbow Serpent first appeared in Arnhem Land rock art more than 6000 years ago, and perhaps as early as 8000 years before the present, as the seas rose after the last Ice Age. Today the Rainbow Serpent is associated with ceremonies about fertility and abundance, as well as the organisation of the community and the keeping of peace.

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