Earth pigments on Stringybark hollow pole
235 x 17 cm
This work identifies the reservoirs of the Ŋaymil/Datiwuy clan. Ŋalkan is an area on Ŋaymil land and sea between the Gurrumuru and Cato Rivers that run into the Arnhem Bay. Within this area is another watercourse that leads up into a sacred area of a freshwater spring or Milŋurr with special qualities called Darrawuy. Here Djanda the sacred goanna swim in the lagoon created by the spring, their actions as they swim causing patterns to be made on the surface that is covered by the totemic water weed Darra. The sacred clan design is a manifestation of these patterns created at Darrawuy lagoon.
Others inhabit these waters. Warrukay or Murrukula the Barracuda, the power totem for the Ŋaymil. It spends most of its time in the salt waters. At certain times Warrukay will make its way up to Darrawuy bringing the ‘contamination’ of saltwater (the mother) with it. The mixing of this saltwater with the fresh has connotations of fertility. Darrawuy is a place of fertility. Souls of Ŋaymil are both delivered to and from this point between worlds real and spiritual. As the sacred songs used in mortuary are cyclic, narrating the Ancestral Events of the original Creator Beings, so is the journey of the Yolŋu soul.
The Djaŋ’kawu Sisters give birth to all Dhuwa nations including the Daṯiwuy. Their special creative powers bring life often in the form of sacred fonts of fresh water such as this.