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Majarrka juju

Story:Majarrka is the name of a sacred ceremonial totem carved from the riymangurru tree. Riymangurru trees grow near Paruku [Lake Gregory] and around Yunpu. They are a hardwood used to make weapons and digging sticks. Majarrka is part of the law and Dreaming associated with the riymangurru tree and it has its own song and ceremony. The contemporary story performed in Majarrka juju [song and dance] has evolved out of this traditional ceremony but is based on a true event. It tells the story of two law bosses, Ned Cox’s father’s father, Wurtuwaya, and Tom Lawford’s mother’s grandfather, Wirrali, both of whom are now deceased. Wurtuwaya and Wirrali were travelling around near Paruku as wanya [‘featherfoot’, sorcerers wielding a similar power to maparn but whose work is concerned with payback rather than healing]. They were 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 who were performing their own ceremony with it. The men were dancing with the totem when Wurtuwaya and Wirrali found them. The two men were hiding as wanya as they watched the men perform. When the men turned their backs, the two bosses snuck in and retrieved the Majarrka totem. 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. '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 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.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, 2007) In this story Yanpiyarti Ned Cox draws a parallel between the sinking of the Canning Stock Route wells and the digging out of waterholes. The traditional hardwood tools and coolamons used to dig and scoop out mud are often made from trees that have important laws and ceremonies associated with them, as is also the case with Majarrka.

Media Creator:Tim Acker

Media date: 2008
Story Location: Paruku (Lake Gregory), Ngumpan

Media Description:Majarrka dancers get dressed and painted up at Majarrka Workshop at Ngumpan Community.

Story contributor(s):Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Putuparri Tom Lawford, Monique La Fontaine, Karen Dayman

Art Centre(s): Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Ngurra Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0002

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.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.

Nyarna, Lake Stretch, 2007

Location: Nyarna Lake Stretch

Date: 8/16/2007

Event Description: In July and August 2007, around 60 artists from seven art centres travelled along the stock route documenting their stories and painting their Country in workshops held along the route. The last of these was at Nyarna, Lake Stretch, near Billiluna. Many new artworks were produced at Nyarna and the first Canning Stock Route 'exhibition' was held here on the shores of the Lake. A number of dances were also performed as part of the final celebrations at the culmination of this trip.



People: Putuparri Tom Lawford, Monique La Fontaine, Karen Dayman

Art Centre(s): CSR Project

Media Description: Artworks displayed at the Nyarna, Lake Stretch Artists Camp. Canning Stock Route bush trip 16- 18 August 2007.

Rights: Photo by Tim Acker

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, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Jila Men

Story:The nothern end of the Canning Stock Route crosses the Great Sandy Desert. Here springs are considered 'living waters' and are known as jila. Some are inhabited by ancestral beings and many of these jila are linked by Dreaming tracks that connect Countries and people. The ancestral stories of these sites are recorded in the songs and dances that cross the desert, uniting peoples through shared ceremonies and law. A number of these jila became wells on the Canning Stock Route. Of around 200 permanent springs or jila in this country, only about 30 are inhabited by powerful ancestral beings: snakes, which are also known as jila, or kalpurtu. Two of these jila, Kulyayi (Well 42) and Kaningarra (Well 48), became stock route wells. Before they became snakes, these jila were men who made rain, shaped the features of the land and introduced practices of law to the jila country. Many of the jila men were also companions who travelled the desert visiting one another, creating the ceremonies and singing the songs that the people of the jila country still perform today. One by one, the jila men ended their journeys at the waters that bear their names, and as they entered their jila, they transformed into the rainbow serpents, kalpurtu. These sites are of great importance to Aboriginal people and they can be as dangerous as they are vital. As places where rain is made, jila must first be ceremonially cleaned out by men. Crescent shaped banks are fashioned around the edge of the jila to signify kutukutu [rain-bearing clouds] before women are invited to approach. The dreaming stories of the jila men Kulyayi and Kaningarra are also connected to those of Kurtal and Wirnpa, two other important jila in this Country.

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010

Media Description:Four dances are performed at the Ngumpan workshop, which took place at Ngumpan Community east of Fitzroy Crossing in late 2008.

Story contributor(s):Monique La Fontaine, Ngilpirr Spider Snell

Art Centre(s): Other
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:DATE_FORM_MIRA_B0098_0001

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.

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