40 x 40cm / Paper: Magnani Pescia
This work has three panels of which all have a particular story and meaning.
The top panel represents a ‘fertile’ area where the freshwater coming down meets the natural dry season barriers of sand bars that halt tidal surg. It is known as Maywundji. This is where the lightning serpent Gayitj stays. The freshwater is running, a new season has begun and the wet is imminent. Gayitj on tasting the influx of freshwater coming down from the sacred lands stands up on its tail from its hole to herald the event to kin by spitting lightning into the skies.
The dead and fallen leaves of the mangrove called Motu gather on the surface of the serpent’s waterhole, banking up at the barrage to be finally spilled out to sea. It is a metaphor of the yothu (child) being released and the procreative qualities of these sacred waters. A larrakitj/memorial pole inhabits these waters and is carried in and out with the tide.
The pole/log itself is alive and has two jaws. One of these is shorter than the other. There are deep meanings behind this symbolism that distinguish this log as a Manggalili vessel. This log/being can traverse the journey of the spirit through the various states of water depicted. Included within this concept is the identity of the Milngiyawuy River which is seen as an earthly manifestation of the Milky Way.
The Yingapungapu in the centre panel is a low relief sand sculpture used in the context of mortuary for the Yirritja clans of Manggalili, Madarrpa and Dhalwangu. Gunyan the ghost sand crab has its hole in the same sand. Out of his hole the crab seeks carrion that has a cleansing effect on the beach. The round ‘stations’ can be seen as holes within the Yingapungapu used to bury food remains and or places where specific relatives of the deceased administer mortuary rite.
The bottom panel is flanked by the sacred design of the Manggalili clan, denoting Djarrakpi. The wavy line, part of the sacred design, has reference to saltwater tidemarks and turtle tracks in the sand dunes. The block of design set within this panel represents Nguykal – the Greater Trevally or Turrum. It is adorned with the clan miny’tji of the freshwater in the Wayawu River that contains the corm of the water lily called yoku. This indicates the embodiment of the feminine, the yoku the yothu or child within. Nguykal from the waters of the sea (off Djarrakpi) venture up to this point in the Wayawu River. The birds are the two Guwak brothers (Koel Cuckoo) who founded this homeland for the clan. They signify the saltwater of Djarrakpi.
Throughout the work is reference to Nyapalingu the Creator Woman and her involvement as a mother earth figure when it comes to mortuary. She wears the possum fur string belts that cross her chest, and is identified by this ‘X’ throughout the work.
Printed July 2011