Earth pigments on Stringybark
96.5cm x 48.5cm
The painting in this work depicts the saltwater country of Yathikpa where the actions of Bäru the Ancestral Crocodile and Hunters Burrak and Garramatji took place.
After sitting under a tree and preparing rope, ancestral hunters Burrak and Garramatji went out hunting at Yathikpa in their canoe for dugong. The dugong fled to the dangerous waters around Marrtjala, the hunters harpoon striking the rock causing the Ancestral Fires to flare and boil the waters. This lead to the canoe capsizing and drowning to occur. The hunter’s paraphenalia includes their harpoon which still floats with the tides between various clan estates including the Madarrpa’s Yathikpa. This sacred object is known as Dhakandjali. The name specific to a memorial pole for this group is Dhakandjali.
The Fire had its origins at Yathikpa and was first ‘carried’ by Bäru the Ancestral Crocodile who took it to sea. Fire represents a profound knowledge that takes wisdom and courage to handle correctly. If you go there, the message reads, be prepared for danger, be prepared for confrontation with the cunning and power of the crocodile and the peril of irrational seas that can boil with fire. The waving Gamata or Seagrass in the sunlit waters is a further metaphoric reference to the subacqueous fire.