Jimbirla and Dayiwul Lirlmim
Jimbirla and Dayiwul Lirlmim

Lena Nyadbi

1936 - Jimbirla and Dayiwul Lirlmim 2014
  • ochre on canvas
120 cm x 90 cm

'Jimbirla [spearhead] and that Lirlmim Ngarranggarni [barramundi dreaming] country is my country, and my father's country.' Lena Nyadbi

One of Australia's foremost indigenous artists, Lena Nyadbi came to world attention with her commission for the roof design of the Musee du quai Branly, in Paris, in 2013.

Nyadbi has painted at Warmun Art Centre since 1998. She paints two principal Dreamings; Jimbirla and Dayiwul Lirlmim.

The vertical strokes in Nyadbi's work represent jimbirla(spearheads). Jimbirla (Spearhead) country is Nyadbi's father's traditional land. It lies north of Warmun, towards Doon Doon Station. The ground is littered with extremely hard, sharp stones. Gija people used to wrap their feet in paper bark or calico when hunting kangaroos in the hills, to stop the stones from cutting their feet.

Jimbirla (spearheads) were traditionally made of this rock and later of glass. Jimbirla are attached to garlumbu (spear shafts) using spinife resin and kangaroo sinew. Nyadbi says that in this country, you can find the many different coloured stones that were used to make jimbirla. In the early days people used to break them with a strong stick, to make the spearhead sharp. The whit semi-circular shapes represent Dayiwul Ngarranggarni - Barramundi Dreaming. 'Gerlgayi ngalim wumberrayin warnawarnarram. [long ago, the women were fishing with a spinifex net]. Get 'im, gundarri [fish], chuck 'im la top, gerlgayi|netting them] all the way right up to that place, chuck 'im [fish] labank all the way. They bin get la top place and they bin put 'im there.


Leave that nyiyirriny [spinifex] there, poor bugger. They binleave 'im (the net) there, he bin turn into stone.' Three women trying to trap Dayiwul the great barramundi with spinife nets. This is a traditional method of fishing wherebynyiyirriny (river spinifex) is rolled and placed in the water forming a kind of net. Dayiwul was too clever for the women and jumped over the barrier they had laid. She pushed her body through the rock of what is now called called Pitt Range. The women gave up and walked to a place called Gawinyji (Cattle Creek) where they turned into rocks. The scales of Dayiwul embedded in the rock, became the diamonds that are extracted from the Argyle Diamond Mine.

Source: Warmun Art Centre © Lena Nyadbi


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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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