Nonggirrnga Marawililate 1930s - Djapu 2022
- ochre and recycled print toner
The grid pattern is the sacred design for the freshwaters of the Diapu clan at their homeland Wandawuy now an outstation about 150 kilometres south of Yirrkala and inland from Blue Mud Bay.
This Diapu clan outstation (and spiritual residence for Ancestral Beings Mana the Shark and Bol'nu the Thunderman) is surrounded by permanent freshwater. Rains inspired by the actions of Bolnu teed the rivers and fill the billabongs. Catfish and mussels. freshwater crayfish and others feed the Yolnu and wild life. The waters are home for the shark Mäna.
The grid refers to the landscape of Wandawuy - a network of billabongs surrounded by ridges and high banks. Its structure also having reference at one level to woven fish traps. Ancestral Hunters set a trap here to snare the Shark but to no avail. These Yolngu people are called Bärngbarng and Monu a who came to cut the trees named Gu uwu, Gathurrmakarr, Nyenyi, Rulwirrika and Gananyarra - all Dhuwa trees. They used straight young trees. And cut them with their axes called Gayma'arri, Bitiutiu.
Areas of the river are staked by the Yolnu and branches interwoven through them. Then the water is polluted by a particular pulped bark that anaesthetises the Gannal that hobble to the surface. With nets constructed similarly to the the beak of Galumay the Pelican the Yolnu wade through the waters scooping up the fish. It has been fished since Ancestral times. Gannal the catfish, totem for the Diapu is ceremonially sung as is Galumay the pelican. Both these species frequent the waters of Wandawuy.
Mana the Ancestral Shark in its epic travels comes thgough this way. These ancestors try to trap Mana in the freshwater by means of these traps in the waterways.
Text courtesy of the artist and Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre.