Earth pigments on Stringybark
This is Yirritja honey. We call Birrkuḏa, Gawarratja waŋa. (place). This painting is from my mother’s clan her miny’tji (design). I am looking after this design for her because she has passed way now.
My bothers Dhukal and Wuyal and me look after this for her. We look after this land and the miny’tji for all her grandchildren as well.
In country that edges into Dhudi Djapu clan land on this estate is country associated with Dhalwaŋu clan lore. It is a Honey site of Ancestral times sung by the Yirritja. Icons of the sugar bag, a manifestation of this deep seated knowledge is depicted. The events that took place here give the Dhalwaŋu and associates spiritual rites of country. This image shows the honey at the place known as Gawarratja belonging to the Maṉatja clan of Mandawuy Yunupingu’s mother-in-law both now deceased. Her sister was the only surviving member of this clan until her death. Their clan was decimated by a massacre in the early 1900’s which is retailed in the Yothu Yindi CD Birrkuda.The liner notes accompanying state amongst other things “ The design on the cover relates to the production of bush honey, Barrngitj, created by the small black honeybee, Birrkuṯa. the painting depicts the hive on the inside of a tree, the diamonds and the cross hatchings representing the honeycomb. The full story of Birrkuṯa belongs to three tribes originating in Gängan, Gawaratja and Dhulanmirringu. The design itself belongs to the Manatja people from Gawaratja. Today the only surviving members of the Manatja tribe are two elderly sisters , one of whom is the mother of Mandawuy’s wife Yalmay. The clan has never recovered from a massacre in the early 1900’s when most of its members were shot by intruders with guns and horses. Later the skulls of some of those murdered were collected and sold to museums and universities for scientific study.” The sensitivities of this history have meant that this design is not often reproduced. In this instance this elderly Dhudi-Djapu woman has painted her mother’s pattern.