Rex Warrimou (Sabïo) is Jagorai (Law Man) of the Dahorurajé clan. He is the senior custodian of Ömie creation knowledge and ‘keeper’ of many important Dahorurajé clan stories. Rex’s father, the late Chief Warrimou, entrusted him with this prestigious role.
By the late-1940s, missionaries had encroached into Ömie territory and were endeavouring to stamp out customary Ömie cultural practices. Sadly, they had already forbidden important rituals such as initiation and funerary ceremonies. Consequently, Warrimou was a key figure in the preservation of Ömie cultural traditions and time-honoured visual arts production.
The volcano Huvaimo is a sacred and powerful place where Ömie Ancestor Spirits reside. It erupted in 1951 and Warrimou believed the Ancestor Spirits were warning his people that their culture was being lost. In order to appease these forebears, Warrimou actively encouraged women Ömie artists to continue painting barkcloth. Additionally, he urged them to transfer customary men’s tattoo designs onto barkcloth.
To this day, the survival of Ömie barkcloth art is largely credited to Warrimou (along with his sister Nogi). Warrimou instilled in his son Rex the importance of preserving and maintaining traditional cultural practices and he is now considered the ‘keeper’ of the profound knowledge taught to him by his father. Late in 2012, Rex began painting these sacred stories onto barkcloth using his unique (for Ömie) figurative style. He is currently the only male artist painting for Ömie Artists.
Rex Warrimou’s traditional lands encompass the southern and eastern sides of Huvaimo itself, and the surrounding mountain ranges. With his family, Rex tirelessly watches over and cares for his homelands. Rex maintains the vital balance between his ‘people’ (including past, present and future generations) and the sacred environment from which they were created and of which they are so intrinsically a part. Rex is married to artist Jean-Mary Warrimou (Hujama) and together they have seven children. His sister Lila Warrimou (Misaso), with whom he sometimes collaborates, is the Paramount Chief of Ömie women.