Yanpiyarti Ned Cox
Yanpiyarti Ned Cox - Majarrka [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Yanpiyarti Ned Cox talks about Majarrka juju, and he also speaks about the riymangurru tree, from which the sacred ceremonial totem is carved.
Art centre(s): Ngurra Artists
Catalogue number: CSROH_294_Yanpiyarti_Ned_Cox
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Full transcript: Yanpiyarti Ned Cox: I want to tell a story about this little stick, this one, kana [digging stick]. Long time ago kartiya [white people] been digging with [iron] bar, long way down, might be 200 feet [to make the Canning Stock Route wells]. Kana, kuturu [large hitting stick used for fighting] and makura [deep coolamon or wooden dish used for carrying water], all [we used] to get water in my language.
This tree and me we been born in the same Country, the one Country. He’s got a meaning this tree. This is the tree now, the meaning. He got the culture, Majarrka. Riymangurru tree from Lake Gregory. That’s the tree, that Majarrka.
[What follows is an explanation of Majarrka juju compiled by Monique La Fontaine in conversation with Putuparri Tom Lawford]
Majarrka is the name of a sacred ceremonial totem carved from the riymangurru tree. Riymangurru trees grows near Paruku (Lake Gregory) particularly around Yunpu and they are a hardwood used to make weapons. Majarrka is part of the law and Dreaming associated with the riymangurru tree and has its own song and ceremony.
The contemporary story performed in Majarrka juju (song and dance) has evolved out of the traditional ceremony, however, and is based on a true story. It tells the story of two bosses, Ned Cox’ father’s father, Wurtuwaya, and Tom Lawford’s mother’s grandfather, Wirrali, both of whom are deceased.
Wurtuwaya and Wirrali were travelling around near Paruku as wanya [featherfoot, sorcerer; wielding similar power as maparn but concerned with payback rather than healing] looking for their sacred Majarrka totem, which had been stolen from Jarrkurti, a place not far from Jalyirr and Yunpu, by a group of men. The men were dancing with the totem when Wurtuwaya and Wirrali found them. The two men were hiding as wanya as they watched them. When the men turned their backs the two bosses snuck in and stole the Majarrka totem back.
In Majarrka juju the dancers who wear the long headdresses (pukurti) represent the men who stole the Majarrka totem. The two dancers with the flat-topped headdresses (kumunungku) represent the bosses, Wurtuwaya and old Wirrali.
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Yanpiyarti Ned Cox; © FORM, transcript only
Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.