Earth pigments on Stringybark
84 x 39cm
Mäna at Lutumba
This work depicts Mäna the ancestral shark in the saltwaters of country shared by the Dhuwa clans of the Djapu, Dhudi Djapu, Marrakulu and the Wanapuyŋu, Dhukuyuna and Wawalak. In other terms the top and bottom Djapu meeting with the top and bottom Marrakulu clans at this place – Lutumba simplifies the connection.
Lutumba refers to an area not just of saltwater but an important area of land that joins at the coast. The area is traditionally used for final resting grounds of the deceased or Wukidi. It is located on the north shore of the Baykultji River and out stream.
Here depicted in this painting the essence of the Dhudi-Djapu soul, on the move as a result of final mortuary rites, manifest as the shark. In sacred ceremony (such as Dhakiyarr’s Wukiḏi ceremony at the NT Supreme Court on 29.6.03 see award winning movie Dhakiyarr vs The King) this spirit follows/is pulled by the sacred line called Yaltharr down deep through the Dhaŋarr or the profound water of Lutumba to the Ancestral reservoir of Buralku.
The liver of this shark is the djukurr or yothu (child) of Dhudi Djapu women who are of necessity married to men from the opposite Yirritja moiety. The children of these unions are born with their father’s kinship identity. Dhudi Djapu people stress the inherent identity of the child as ‘coming from the shark’. Put crudely ‘you can take the liver out of the shark but you can’t take the shark out of the liver’. She is talking of her own children as having the essence of “Dhudi-Djapu-ness” within them.