Earth pigments on Stringybark
112cm x 38cm
An ancient tsunami brought tidal inundation to the inland mortuary site of Wukidi- the start of mortuary ceremony for Djapu, Dhudi Djapu, Marrakulu, Marrangu Wanapuyŋu and Dhapuyngu clans of North East Arnhem land. Ever since ancestral hunters Balurruwuy and Yangamawuy were swept from their canoe by a huge tidal wave and deposited at Wukidi they have stood as rocks at this site. Since time immemorial the songs dances and designs of this event have guided these clans to deposit the bones of their deceased amongst these rocks many miles from the sea. The clans inter their dead in the rocky holes in the ground in a ceremony which refers to the meat ant naḏi. It is the reaction caused by these ants biting the body that stimulates the release of the soul. The song cycles recount the tide washing over them before surging back to the sea- a spiritual connection and cleansing. In this painting the linear Dhuwa moiety waters, Balamumu, closest to the mortuary area. At low tide the Balamumu takes the maternal role and pushes its child out to sea and carries it there. The footprints represent the ‘Djalkirri’ or foundation of the clan, footprints left behind by the Ancestral Sisters, the Djaŋ’kawu as they passed through this country.