Earth pigments on Stringybark
147 x 42 cm
Ancestral hunters Balurruwuy and Yaŋgamawuy saw turtle from the island Burralku. This place with a more specific name of Marrtjirra as it is referred to in manikay (sacred song). From the Island the hunters prepared the harpoon and three splice fibre rope. The rope is sung Bungapumirr with the enchants Mamarrirrka for the art and ceremony of twisting of the rope, Yaltarr, Wurruku Mamikiya.
They saw the turtle Murrurrwa out past the batpa or coastal reefs of Burralku, out in the deeper seas of Lutumba.
“he thought the place was batpa but it was deep water but easily to see. When you get close to the turtle you can follow it under the water swimming to get away”
the large green turtle was killed.
“half way back he (they) saw Dhalwalarrmirr, Bundamirr. This is where the gapu (water) came up as rough sea Wulamba, Maŋaymaŋay, Djunu – Balamumu, Djapu Gapu”.
Dhalwalarrmirr, Bandamirr is the sacred rope with hook they saw stretched out on the surface of the roughening water and wuḏuku or driftwood is attached to such paraphernalia when used for hunting as a float marker. It connects the deep waters of Lutumba back to the Wukiti on the mainland.
These rough waters, dangerous and unforgiving drove the hunters back into the mainland, the massive tide covering the upper most land side aspects of Lutumba – the Wukiḏi or sacred burial ground for the Djapu, Dhudi Djapu, Marrakulu, Marraŋu and Dhapuyŋu
“Today when we finish buŋgul (ceremonial dance ) for somebody passed away we do the turtle hunt for the bukulup (water cleansing ceremony).”
People are placed in the prepared ground representing the Wukiḏi to have the giant ancestral tide wash/sung over them before the surge washes back to the sea – a spiritual connection and a cleansing.
The sacred nature of this place refers in part to the regeneration of Dhuwa souls via the medium of sacred waters that spring from this area.
The interlocking strips of miny’tji (sacred clan design) represent this water that is calm and clear – a turtle surfacing is easy to spot and chase. The star shapes can also be shown in this context they represent Porpita porpita – a sea organism which is turtle food known as Yathiny. This state which has philosophic and metaphoric meanings is known as Warrparra or Milarr.
This hunt is reenacted as a part of the larger mortuary rituals for the Djapu (and associates) deceased that has its origins at Lutumba.