Clever Man: The Life of Paddy Compass Namadbara offers a unique perspective on the life and making of this Aboriginal Western Arnhem clever man or marrkidjbu. Born at the end of the 19th Century when the Western world had scarcely touched Arnhem Land, Paddy Compass Namadbara acted as a healer for his countrymen and became a powerful and revered leader. Using his clever abilities and wisdom to nurture his community, he enabled the community to deal with the cultural and social changes of the encroaching Western world.
He achieved the reputation of being one of the most powerful and clever of traditional marrkidjbu described as ‘a proper number one champion!’ Based on stories told by the people he helped, some profoundly and in extraordinary ways. This unique biography looks at his life through the eyes of his Western Arnhem countrymen who witnessed his extraordinary abilities. Ian White, researcher and compiler for Clever Man: The Life of Paddy Compass Namadbara, encourages readers to give greater consideration to the reality of the extraordinary abilities of clever people such as Paddy Compass.
"In compiling this account of Namadbara’s life I am hoping that the story will serve for the benefit of future West Arnhem generations. In these changing times his story stands as their inheritance."
"...is a wonderfully rich, complex and sometimes mysterious biography, founded in Aboriginal men’s memories of a healer of the highest degree..."
-Emeritus Professor Nicholas Peterson, ANU
- 230mm x 185mm x 10mm
- Released July 2020
- ISBN 9781925302233
About The Author
Ian White is an anthropologist and archaeologist who has worked in the Western Arnhem Region with the Northern Land Council for 24 years. He undertook the main fieldwork on which the Paddy Compass portrait is based during his studies as a Master of Arts in Anthropology at the University of Western Australia. Since retiring he has devoted much time to exploring the many avenues of scientific and philosophical research that may begin to throw light on the question of ‘the powers of the mind’, a question that is raised by the story of Paddy Compass Namadbara.
About The Cover
Cover image: 'Maam, malignant spirit', c. 1963 by Paddy Namadbara. Image suppleid by National Gallery of Australia.