Image size 79 x 60cm Paper size 55 x 34cm (Black Paper)
Garrapara is a coastal headland and bay area within Blue Mud Bay. It is known on the maps in English a Djalma Bay. It marks the spot of a sacred burial area for the Dhalwangu clan and a site where dispute was formally settled by Makarrata (a trial of ordeal by spear which settled serious grievance and sealed the peace forever). At Garrapara sacred Casuarina trees held these barbed spears whilst not in use.
Makani the Queenfish hugs the shore almost beaching itself as it attacks schools of baitfish and has actually formed the features of the coastline of Djalma Bay.
During the creation times of the ‘first mornings’ ancestral hunters left the shores of Garrapara in their canoe towards the horizon hunting for turtle. Sacred songs and dance narrate the heroic adventures of these two men as they passed sacred areas, rocks and saw ancestral totems on their way. Their hunting came to grief, with the canoe capsizing and the hunters being drowned. The bodies washed back to the shores of Garrapara with the currents and the tides, as the Wangupini (maternal Thunderhead cumulo- nimbus cloud) followed with its rain and wind. Their canoe with paddle and their totems Makani (Queenfish) and Minyga (Long Tom) and Gärun (Loggerhead Turtle) are all referred to in the songs and landscape.
Garrapara has been rendered by the wavy design for Yirritja saltwater in Blue Mud Bay called Mungurru. The Mungurru is deep water that has many states and connects with the sacred waters coming from the land estates by currents and tidal action. This sacred design shows the water of Djalma Bay chopped up by the blustery South Easterlies of the early Dry season.
The miny’tji (sacred clan design) on this piece identifies the Dhalwaŋu saltwater estate of Garrapara on Blue Mud Bay. Here is the sacred site for the Dhalwaŋu Yiŋapuŋapu, a mortuary based sand sculpture used for the initial rites of the dead. The deceased placed within the Yiŋapuŋapu’s elliptical confines has its own contamination kept at bay.
Yingapungapu used in ritual by the Maŋgalili, Madarrpa and the Dhalwaŋu clans. Detail in its construction identifies particular clan ownership thus tenure to its particular site, Dhalwaŋu saltwater country at Garrapara, a peninsula within Blue Mud Bay.
A giant tide that capsized the ancestral Hunters canoe called Yinikambu washed it back to shore from the waters there out deep, to cleanse the site of Yiŋapuŋapu, the waters then imbued with the deceased’s Dhalwaŋu life force washes back out to the sanctified saltwaters of Garrapara.
In the songs the hooked spears sit under the Mawurraki (Casuarina) trees at the place Bati’wuy and conjur the connections between the ancient mariners and the law of mortuary for Dhalwangu. At the conclusion of the ceremony participants feast with Yambirrku (Parrot fish) within the ground. Gunyan the sand crab cleanse and renew. It is happening in the distant time before time and also in the present and the far future.
The songs include reference to the maternal Thunderhead cloud Waŋupini and suggest the presence of Nyapiliŋu the ancestral female being who travelled from Groote Eyelandt. The saltwater on the horizon has to metamorphose through a different dimension becoming vapour in order to overcome the obstacle of mortality to be absorbed as life giving freshwater in the belly of the mother. These clouds then cross the coast and rain life into the hinterland behind the beach which flows down through the rivers to the sea again. Thus the water traces the spiritual kinship connections of the artist’s identity, and leaves a metaphor for the cycle of life. The painting records both of these aspects as well as the political and physical geography of this area. The Makarr or ceremonial spears make this site a centre for dispute resolution.
Printed Yirrkala Print space April 2019