Milminydjarrk Barnday (dry sacred waterholes) at Garriyak
25 x 32cm
Dja’nkawu sisters are travelling from the Yirratjingu people at Yalangbarra (on the east Arnhem mainland). These ancestors then travelled west to Garriyak which is south of Elcho Island. We (the Garrawurra people) sing two songs about them with Birrma, they aren’t really songs, they are stories.
Wherever they stopped, the Dja’nkawu sisters changed their language, names, clan, ceremony and customs. They gave these things to the people. They also made Gapu Milminydjarrk or Milngurr (water holes) by poking their Dhorna or Ganinyidi (digging sticks) into the ground. Some of these waters are sacred but some are alright to drink from. In this work, the waterholes are dry yet retain their significance.
The sisters gave Miku (red), Watharr (white) and Buthjalak (yellow) ochre colours for us to paint with. We use them for the Ngarra law ceremony, which is a cleansing ceremony, performed when people die. These designs also refer to our clan totem animals such as Djanda (goanna), Nyuka (crab), Wanduma or Gudumurrku (fresh water cat fish), Bowarta (turkey), Ngatili (black cockatoo) and the Worrudj (colourful parrot).