The Dinka Say that Woman is the Origin of Death 2005
by Atem Aleu

2007 • 007

Oil on Canvas.
40.9 x 30 inches/ 104 x 76.5 cm

Lent by the Sudanese Education Fund

The Dinka Say that Woman Is the Origin of Death 2005


The artist alludes to a well-known story from Dinka mythology. In ancient times, the earth and the sky were so close that they were linked by a single rope; anyone who died could ascend the rope to be reborn. A woman pounding grain killed a bird, causing the bird’s mother to sever the rope in revenge, bringing true death into the world. At the same time, the bird cutting the rope also signifies the enduring hope for peace: in the midst of pain and privation visions of hope and regeneration endure.


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This website has been developed by the Museums and Public Memory (Anth 159a) class taught by Professor Mark Auslander at Brandeis University. Images have been reproduced with the permission of the African Refugee Artists Club.