Galuma Maymuru (dec)
Earth pigments on Stringybark
100 x 54cm
The miny’tji (sacred clan designs) is Maŋgalili freshwater and talks of Ŋuykal the Kingfish, rotting wood raŋga (sacred object) under the water and the sacred yoku (edible bulbs of the water plant Aponogeton) representing the yothu (children) of the Maŋgalili fed on by the Bilthu (Rifle fish).
The Ŋuykal: Turrum, carangoides emburyi, Kingfish, enters into freshwater to breed. A strong swimming fish seen seasonally cruising along shore lines are speared by Yolŋu. It is totem for the Maŋgalili clan.
It is the journey of this fish (up freshwater rivers to breed) that created important ties with relative clans. Ŋuykal’s travelling included a path from Dhonydji to the Wayawu River, passed through Dhälinbuy, a site where the Wangurri clanspeople have settled.
At a sacred rock at Wayawuwuy, Ŋoykal changed into the hollow log Milkamirri. The rock depicted here with two birds which are either Gany’tjurr (Reef Heron) the archetypal Yirritja moiety hunter or the Guwak (Koel Cuckoo) men who found teh homeland of Djarrakpi. The sacred design represents the Yoku or lily corm eaten by Ŋuykal whilst at the Wayawu River. He swims up stream towards the sacred rock Dhukurru from where ancestors once stood to spear the big fish.
Ŋuykal people dance, with spear throwers the tail and sacred dilly bag in mouth. The concept of lily bulbs in dillybags has an echo of Maŋgalili children in the womb. Thus the Wayawu is the freshwater source of Maŋgalili souls and an analogy for the Milky Way which is also seen as the reservoir of Maŋgalili souls from which children spring to select their parents.
This painting depicts in sacred abstraction the corms of the plant, being washed from the lily beds by the flooding Wayawu. The miny’tji underlying this painting represents the Maŋgalili essence (of Ŋuykal) in this water. The artist depicts the figurative form of Yoku as an aide to those who cannot see it in the pattern.
Yoku refers to the bulb of the plant djalagu’: Aponogeton elongatus.