Ralwurrandji Wanambi (dec)
30 x 50cm Paper: HAHNEMUHLE 40 x 60cm
This design is connected to Wuyal, the ancestral sugarbag man, an important ancestor of the Marrakulu clan of North East Arnhem Land. This painting describes his journey during which he named important sites and certain animals. The image refers also to the continuation of the Marrakulu culture in dance, song and ceremony, which are performed by current generations who have inherited this knowledge and culture from ancestoral figures such as Wuyal. This story refers also to important Dhuwa moiety ancestors called the Wawilak sisters.
Wuyal was the first man to look for any homeland for the Marrakulu people. He began a journey from Gurka’wuy travelling via Yuduyudu to Cape Shield, up to Trial Bay and along the course of the Goyder River until he came to Mt. Saunders. Travelling along with Wuyal, was Ganyt’jalala. These men are symbolic of the Märi-Guthara (grandparent-grandchild) relationship which describes the relationship between Ḏäṯiwuy and Marrakulu clans. Significant to this relationship is the fact that Ḏäṯiwuy men give their daughters daughters away to Marrakulu men for marriage. Thus the two clans share an important relationship which involves reciprocal obligations.
Wuyal carried with him tools for hunting animals and for collecting wild honey or sugarbag. The dilly bag, Banduk, worn around his neck, was used to carry the sugarbag called guku. Wuyal used a stone axe, djalpaṯ, to cut down trees in his search for sugarbag. He also carried a stone headed spear for hunting rock wallabies, ḏulaku. The stone head of the spear, guyarra, is made from stone found at a place called Nilipitji. The shaft of the spear is called guṉdit. Also carried was galpu, a spearthrower.
In their ancestral travels these men travelled alone without wives and conducted what was mens’ business in ceremony. Wuyal’s ceremonial ground where he danced and conducted sacred ceremony, a place near Buffalo Creek and Mt. Saunders, is called Wandjipuy.
The tools were also used in shaping the land. Trees cut down by Wuyal in the search for sugarbag, turned into rivers. The Gurka’wuy river was made in this way. Wuyal also named places by throwing his boomerang, gunyalili, and giving names to the places where it fell to the ground. From Mt. Saunders he threw his gunyalili and named a place called Gäluru in this way.
The continuum between the environment, the art and the sacred foundation of the Marrakulu is completed when the Marrakulu dance as bees in their ceremony elbows extended ,hands clutching stringybark leaves which vibrate as wings.
Printed June 2010