Earth pigments on Wood
147 x 18cm
Galumay – Pelican
Guykuda’s spiritual homeland is Wandawuy although he lives at the nearby Garrthalala. Wandawuy is surrounded by permanent freshwater. Rains inspired by the actions of Bolŋu (the Thunderman- embodiment of Wet Season) feed the rivers and fill the billabongs. Catfish and mussels, freshwater crayfish and others feed the Yolŋu and wild life.
With nets constructed similarly to the the beak of Galumay the Pelican the Yolŋu wade through the waters scooping up the fish. It has been fished since Ancestral times. The catfish, totem for the Djapu is ceremonially sung as is Galumay the pelican. Both these species frequent the waters of Wandawuy. Djapu clansmen have always used a triangular, scissor-like net made from the bark of the Kurrajong to catch fish imitating their ancestral relation the Pelican. If a member of the clan has offended against another and is required to be brought to account under Yolŋu law the Djapu escorting him to the place of justice will dance the Pelican relying on the qualities of gentle shepherding inherent in the fishing style and bill of this great hunter. And lastly but most importantly once the long and complicated mortuary rituals of the Yolŋu are completed and the spirit of their departed kinsman has been ‘sung’ through the ancestral songlines of his kinship country back to the ‘island of the dead’, Buralku, it is the Pelican or fish trap which catches the soul of the deceased and guides it to its destination and final resting place.