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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.

Putuparri Tom Lawford

 

Putuparri Tom Lawford - Ngumpan workshop 2008 [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Putuparri Tom Lawford talks about the Ngumpan workshop in 2008. He discusses the importance of learning to make artefacts and also discusses the Kaningarra dance that was performed for the first time in a long time.

Date: 2008
Art centre(s): CSR Project, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_291_Putuparri_Tom_Lawford
Date: 2008
Transcribed By: Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Mount Newman Creek

Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Access: Public
Notes: This transcript is transcribed from Karen Dayman’s fieldnotes.
Full transcript: [Speaking about the Ngumpan workshop in September 2008] Putuparri Tom Lawford: It was good for young ones and old people. Old people were happy because all the young ones been dancing and learning artefact making, karli [boomerangs], ngurti [coolamon] and mukurru [hitting sticks] and collecting materials for ceremony. They been passing down to their grandkids so they can carry on that dancing. Dancing is the easy part, what we need to do now is get them to learn the songs for the dances. Kaningarra was never performed for a long time, so what we did at Ngumpan was get the old fellas together and we talked about trying to get Kaningarra back, the dance, the songs. There’s only one old fella [Spider Snell] who still knows how to sing that song as well as the old ladies - all the bosses for Kaningarra have passed away. Spider wanted to pass it onto the rightful owners before he passed away. So it was good, all the old people been singing it and teaching it to Pampirla [Hansen Boxer] because he’s a Kaningarra man and he can carry that on. Old ladies been crying, it was like they were bringing something back from the dead. Spider’s a Kurtal man, we need to keep that carrying on because Kaningarra and Kurtal are like brothers in the Dreamtime. What I liked about that workshop was the young ones, the young kids, they were all humbugging me for dancing and making boomerang, they been waiting for us in town to take them out there. We go from generation to generation: from old people to our generation, and from me to younger generation. We had more kids there than adults. The little ones were really interested, and the young men were too. We had kids and we had teenagers, and they all wanted to have a go. And it made the old ones happy too to see their grandkids, sons and daughters up there dancing. If we had more time to get everybody involved, it would be good to focus on the girls next time, so the girls don’t miss out. We hope they keep it in their heads for the future. Some of the boys were learning how to make artefacts properly for the first time. After Ngumpan them young boys felt proud dancing in front of all their CFountrymen and different people from all over the Kimberley at the big KALACC festival at Mt Barnett, dancing their own dance from their ancestors, with the karli [boomerangs] and mukurru [hitting sticks] that they made with their own hands at Ngumpan. And it made old people and me proud too. END
Source: CSROH_291_Putuparri_Tom_Lawford
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Putuparri Tom Lawford; © 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.

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
Access: Public
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.

END
Source: CSROH_294_Yanpiyarti_Ned_Cox
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.

Kumpaya Girgaba

Kumpaya Girgaba - speaking and singing for the camera [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: This is a transcript of Kumpaya Girgaba talking and singing for the camera. Toward the end she speaks and sings specifically about the Canning Stock Route collaborative canvas.

Date: 2012-06
Art centre(s): Martumili Artists
Language spoken: Kriol, Martu Wangka
Catalogue number: CSROH_278_Kumpaya_Girgaba
Date: 2012-06
Transcribed By: Kathleen Sorenson, Mollie Hewitt

Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Access: Public
Notes: This was filmed on the repatriation trip to Newman in 2012. It was transcribed for subtitles, and it is therefore incomplete (and missing interviewer questions) and includes time codes from the film footage.
Full transcript: 00.00: Make a damper. It’s afternoon. The sun is going to go down soon.

00.00 – 00.38: [Kumpaya sings, no translation] Longtime people, bushman, all the old lady, man and lady.

00.07 – 01.56: [Song – no translation]

01.57: It’s an old people’s song, long time. Not me, I was only a little girl.

02.21: And my mother and father, my mother, three, and my father. He got three nyupa (husband or wife).

02.49: You wanna get three women?

03.09: One mummy, my mother, my mother. I got three.

My Aunty in Jigalong. Mother, three and my father.

[song]

04.58: [Kumpaya clapping and singing] I am doing this for the video.

05.16: [close up singing song]

05.13: [singing] I am sitting here, Mount Newman Creek. Sitting down singing. Mount Newman River.

05.50: Painting, we’re going to open it up now and have a look and might be go back and track it to tell the story of my Country. My painting.

[Then Talking about Canning Stock Route collaborative canvas [the one displayed at CHOGM]]

07.05: Here now, Canning Stock Route! Yeah, my Country.

07.35: Canning Stock Road here [pointing to painting].

08.07: This two – this is Kunawarritji [Well 33]. Kunawarritji here. This one Nyarruri [Well 32], Nyipil [Well 34], Kinyu Well 35], Pangkapini, [between wells 35 and 36] Kilykily [Well 36], Lipuru [Well 37] and Wajaparni [Well 38].

08.38: Wajaparni ...[sic. these wells are out of order] Natawalu, Kulyayi, Tiru, Jimpirrinykarra, Wirriyarra, Kartalapuru, Bililuna.

09.10: Billiluna... this one [at the other end] Wiluna.

09.44: This one my Country. This Canning Stock Route here, this is my Country. This is Parnngurr.

[repeats the wells]

Nyarruri, Nyipil, Kinyu, Pangkapini, Kilykily...

These are my Country. These ones belong to another lot of people. Fitzroy mob, Mangkaja mob. Another lot of people.

11.00: Kaningarra [Well 48], right up near Bililuna. This is Martu side and other side is Kurtal. Up to Fitzroy.

11.39: [Kumpaya and Tom] Kaningarra and Kurtal.

12.12: That’s my area. This is our Country. They were there and then they went to Fitzroy Crossing.
Old man went there.

12.38: ... and he was singing songs [Old Spider, Tom’s Grandfather]. They were singing a song at Kurtal. He been stay there and he been go.

13.50: My cousin, all the nephews and sons, they were dancing in that Country and then they went back, yeah.

14.20: [Footprints] All the Parnngurr mob, they came from the Country, walking in the Country. The ones that look more recent they are the people that came back. Old people and the people today.

15.30: We went back and made this now, this is my Country, Canning Stock Route Ngurra [Country]. My Country, all the people’s Country.

16.18: Puntukurnu painting, Martumili. [This is Aboriginal people’s painting. Martu people’s.]

17.00: She been finish him off, my daughter here. This daughter here [points at Kat]. We finished him off me and my daughter.

19.00 – 19.52: [singing around painting sitting down. Morika sings, but being silly]

20.00: [Nola. Morika and Nola singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’] Morika: yeah same thing!

20.28: [Jakayu and Kumpaya on canvas singing]

21.10: [Singing starts again]

21.40: From Punmu they got up. I was there, I saw it. [Sings again]

22.10: Nola: Alright Gabe, you singing.

22.32: [singing

[Kumpaya talks about Canning Stock Route Project in Martu Wagka, translated by Kathleen Sorenson]

36.33: It’s me talking, my name is Kumpaya for painting. We’ve got to bring it back home and it will stay home. My painting.

37.19: My Country. Kumpaya my name, I am Kumpaya now talking.

37.24: I’m the boss of the painting. This is for us and for all of us. We’re bringin it back.

38.28: My name is Kumpaya Girgaba. We bringing it back home, we’re gonna keep ‘em. Too many people here, we gonna keep ‘em.

39.04: I am Kumpaya, I’m talking for taking back home, story. Our paintings for all of us. We gotta look after our painting. We’re gonna keep it for our family. I am talking nyami.

39.50: Nyami now. I’m Kumpaya, we’re bring it back home. That’s the last one, nyami. That’s that. We’re gonna keep it in our Country.

END
Video recording: 03_DAY_THREE
Source: CSROH_278_Kumpaya_Girgaba
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Kumpaya Girgaba; © 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.

Name: Jukuja Nora Tjookootja, Ngilpirr Spider Snell, Jukuja Dolly Snell, Manmarr Daisy Andrews, Milkujung Jewess James

Kaningarra Jila - Recording and story of song for Kaningarra [ORAL HISTORY]

Other Speaker/s: Joy Nuggett

Synopsis: Kaningarra jla: a recording of ceremonial song for the living water that became Well 48 on the CSR and the explanation of the song's meaning

Date: 2009-04-01
Art centre(s):
Language spoken: Walmajarri, Wangkajunga
Catalogue number: CSROH_173_Kaningarra_Song
Interviewed By: Monique La Fontaine
Translated By: Putuparri Tom Lawford, Joy Nuggett, Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Ngumpan
Latitude/Longitude: -18.76/126.03

Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Access: Public
Notes: This contains the transcript of the Kaningarra song in language and then translated with commentary from the singers. The verses are numbered to correlate to the later translation. There are additional notes included at the end of this transcript which were added when the permission was gathered in November 2009.
Full transcript: [Sung in old Wamaljarri by: Jukuja Nora Tjookootja, Ngilpirr Spider Snell, Jukuja Dolly Snell, Manmarr Daisy Andrews, Milkujung Jewess James]

1. Kaningarra marna layalaya marna nyinyi [ or nyi] kurlila marna jirrimpil karrinyana.

2. Nganangu paja wurna wurna pungany nyi [or nyinyi] wirliti marna jarrkarra wantinya na.

[Dancing]

3. Yankurr karrila kankarra pajila piply pipily marna nyi [or nyinyi] ngaliwirri pa yankurr karrila.

4. Yayaya marla kankarra pajala pipyl pipyl marna nyi [or nyinyi] ngaliwirri pa.

5. Nyimarr pa karrila kayili karla nyimarr pa marna nyi [or nyinyi] kayili karla.

[Dancing]

6. Kayili marna marnkiti kangany nyi [or nyinyi] kayili marna jangala wurru.

[Dancing]

[These verses are repeated over and over.]

[Note: Verses numbered, with commentary of singers in between. Some of the verses contain elements of the story described by the singers and are not direct translations of the song.]

Nora Tjookootja: This is my husband [Donkeyman Benny – boss of Kaningarra, Spider’s brother] song and story.

Spider Snell: Kaningarra is for him, my brother.

NT: That’s their Country, that boy Pampirla [Hansen Boxer]. His father this one here. [His father is Daisy’s brother].

1. I am Kaningarra. Standing in my Country, I look to the south.

2. [Direct translation:] What are these things chasing me, making me run around in circles? I’m a maparn [magic man]. I am standing up and falling down.

[Additional:] These devil dogs are frightening me. I hit them with my power.

Daisy Andrews: You know this one dog been chase ‘em.

NT: Jakarra [to Tom Lawford], you know who he was chasing? Julypa, my lamparr [father in law] [Julypa/Kaningarra].

SS: My old man, Julypa, warri warri [from the older generation].

Yeah, he was hitting them [dogs] with his maparn [magic], my old man [Julypa/Kaningarra].

NT: Yeah, my lamparr [father in law]. Dog was chasing him. Something like a kukurr [devil].

SS: Kukurr was chasing him, kunyarr kukurr [devil dog]

DA: Old man, he was being chased.

NT: Yeah, your daddy, the father of Daisy’s mob, my lamparr [father in law].

Jewess James: Long time ago, [in the Dreamtime] you know, not from today.

3. Streaks of lightning are flashing in the distance. A storm is gathering all around. Lightning is flashing on top of the hills like fire, I hide underground. A waterhole forms in the earth.

SS: Like when he flashing up in the sky like fire, that’s that lightning.

NT: Lightning was flashing on top him, my father in law [Julypa/Kaningarra], then he went inside to hide underground. That’s why there’s two water hole there, one on top and one on the bottom. When he went inside that’s that water on the bottom.

4. A storm cloud is raining in the distance but it is coming closer and closer. It will pour on you. Lightning strikes on the hill. Another waterhole is formed from the sky.

SS: When they strike at night it’s like a fire burning. It was striking on top of that old man. That’s that water on the top. It’s for them old people,

DS: Nyapajayi [to Monique], this song bring up big rain.

5. The storm is approaching from the north-west. It brings little bit of rain, sprinkling lightly like a mist.

SS: To the west he’s standing in the salt water in the sea.

JJ: He was standing on his own one leg, on his knee, holding his spear, looking at the rain. That rain he can’t come, it belongs to there, it stays one place.

6. In the north, a Jangala man is standing on one leg in the sea, looking out. He is painted up, carrying a spear and a boomerang. He drinks rainwater. He dances back and forth and brings the song from the north.

JJ: After standing all day looking at the rain he started dancing towards it, having a drink of that water, and dancing back. Back and forth.

[Further note added from November 2009 permissions trip:]

Joy Nuggett: All of these songs come together at Kaningarra …

[Additional information given November 2009 permissions trip:]

Kaningarra is a major rain-making site. In addition to the main song for Kaningarra jila, a number of other rain-making songs, like the one below, converge at this site [Kaningarra]:

Kitil and wiyirr birds migrate towards the storm, bringing the rain.

Puddles form, little streams run on the ground. People walk through pools of water.

Rain makes the waters run like a river. Foaming up, the waters meet and flood.

END


Source: CSROH_173_Kaningarra_Song
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Jukuja Nora Tjookootja, Ngilpirr Spider Snell, Jukuja Dolly Snell, Manmarr Daisy Andrews, Milkujung Jewess James; © 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.

Video Title: Jilakurru: Camp

Video Description: Birriliburu artists camped at Jilakurru for the first painting workshop of the 2007 stock route trip. Mangkaja artist Jawurji Mervyn Street shows Martu elder Anga Friday Jones his watercolour of drovers and cattle on the stock route. Expert damper maker, Kaye Bingham, kneads dough for supper and Clifford Brooks sings about his Country.

Date created: 2010
People: Jawurji Mervyn Street, Anga Friday Jones, Kaye Bingham, Clifford Brooks, Vera Anderson, Niesha Long, Frank Lane, Sharon Anderson, Adena Williams, Roberta (Lizzie) Minor
Art Centre(s): Birriliburu Artists, Tjukurba Gallery, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, CSR Project
Place of creation: Durba Springs, Jilakurru
Latitude/Longitude: -23.75397/122.51669

Director: Nicole Ma
Editor: Chris Mylrea
Camera: Paul Elliot
Sound: Cam McGrath
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © FORM
Clip length: 0:01:57
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20131021_FORM_MIRA_B0061_0004

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.

Kurtal


Traditional knowledge: Spider Snell is the brother of Jarinyanu David Downs and the ceremonial boss for Kurtal:

I am jila. I am one of his lightnings. I was a good hunter when I was a kid, killing all kinds of animals. I used to cook them and chuck bones in the waterhole. I was a good kid, looking after my own self. My mother and father went hunting sometimes for two days or more. At night I would say, "Kurtal, I’m alone, my parents haven’t came back yet. Can you look after me?"

Before Kurtal turned into an ancestral snake being and entered the 'living water' or permanent spring that bears his name, he was a man. In the words of Kurtal boss Ngilpirr Spider Snell:

A big rain came. After the rain, grasses started to grow. From the grass Kurtal turned into a man.

Kurtal travelled to Jintirripil, a jila near the sea, who asked him to stay for good. Tricking him, Kurtal agreed. Jintirripil told Kurtal to find the jila Paliyarra, who had stolen his sacred objects.

Paliyarra knew that Kurtal had come to steal back Jintirripil’s objects. He told Kurtal he didn’t have them but Kurtal could see the lightning flashing inside him. Paliyarra set his dogs onto Kurtal. Badly bitten, Kurtal tripped over Paliyarra, who spilled the objects on the ground. Kurtal kicked them towards his jila.

Kurtal stole more objects from other jila, then went to visit his friend Kaningarra. Kaningarra asked Kurtal to stay with him there forever. Tricking him, Kurtal agreed, saying, "You lie down over there and I’ll lay down here.” Kaningarra went into the ground, turning into a snake, and Kurtal took off for his country.

Getting weak, Kurtal crawled inside his waterhole with all his stolen objects and turned into a snake.

That’s the song "Kurtal wanyjurla wanyjurla" we sing. He sent up a kutukutu [rain bearing cloud] like the ones I made at Kurtal.'

This is Kurtal's song:

'n the north-west I saw leaping fish sparkling in the sunlight. Carrying the sacred object I wade through the water. The waves carry me down to the depths. In the north-west I saw a seagull. The seagull was speaking. I saw lightning flickering in the north; I was the rain cloud. I am Kurtal. I bring the meat and make the country fruitful. The wind is wild, the lightning flickers in the sky. Up there Kaningarra is crying. The wind roars. I am Kaningarra, the great rock. Look to the south. That flat ground is sloping now. Who is that coming after me? I am a maparn [magic man] but I’m losing my powers. Look to the west. See his headdress. (Ngilpirr Spider Snell)

Related art centre(s): Other

Media title: Jila Kurtal
Media creator: Nicole Ma
Date: 2010

Media description: Kurtal boss Ngilpirr Spider Snell teaches Kaningarra man, Pampirla Hansen Boxer, the dance for Kurtal, his Country, at Ngumpan in 2008
Media Copyright: FORM
Format: Video
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0089_0007

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.

Wirnpa


Place description: Wirnpa was one of the most powerful of the jila men and the last to travel the desert before entering the jila, which bears his name, becoming a snake. Wirnpa’s adventures are celebrated in songs and stories of many language groups. Today, many of these people worry about proposals to mine the country around Wirnpa.

Wirnpa was a rainmaker and the last of the jila men to walk around the desert in the Jukurrpa (the Dreamtime). After travelling far from his home, Wirnpa came back to search for his many children only to discover that they had already died. They had laid down and turned into the waterholes of the Percival Lakes. Wirnpa wept for his children and then turned into a snake and entered the waterhole that bears his name.

Aboriginal people from language groups across the Western Desert know Wirnpa jila, even if they’ve never been there. The jila lies in Yulparija Country, but as a man Wirnpa travelled such great distances that the songlines which describe his journeys connect him to many groups. As an ancestral hero, Wirnpa is the keeper of different laws and ceremonies, and Aboriginal people from multiple language groups consider the place where he rests a sacred site.

Jila like Wirnpa are formidable places, which can be dangerous if they are not approached properly. Aboriginal people enter jila sites ritually, sweeping the ground with branches, and approaching in single file. Elders call out to Wirnpa, announcing their arrival and introducing people who are new to the jila. For many senior people the experience of returning to their Country is highly emotional.

When the people who belonged to Wirnpa left the desert, some went north and eventually settled at Balgo, Mulan, Fitzroy Crossing, Wangkatjungka, Looma, Broome and Bidyadanga. Others went south and settled at Jigalong, Newman, Punmu, Parnngurr and Kunawaritji. Others still went east to Yuendumu and Papunya. Until recently, some of these people had never had the chance to return to their Country but today many people are taking their children and grandchildren to see Wirnpa for the first time.

The songlines that pass through Wirnpa travel underground, imbuing the Country with power. The responsibility for these songs, and for the Country itself, is passed down from one generation to the next. Aboriginal people belong to the Country and are its caretakers; when they die, their spirit returns to their Country.

Traditional knowledge: Wirnpa the proper boss. Rich. Too many money. Kartiya [white people] can’t get that. We got snake, jila. Can’t touch. (Jawarta Donald Moko, 2007)

Jila [like Wirnpa] might make kartiya sick, make a big wind. We been tell him, “Don’t get wild, we all one family for you.” (Jawarta Donald Moko, 2009)

Related art centre(s): Other

Media title: Greeting Wirnpa
Media creator: Curtis Taylor
Date: 2010

Media description: Martu elders bring their grandchildren to Wirnpa for the first time in 2009
Media Copyright: Curtis Taylor
Format: Video
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0089_0006

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.

Kaningarra

Non-Indigenous name: Well 48

Place description: In 2008 and 2009 Kurtal boss Ngilpirr Spider Snell and Jukuja Nora Tjookootja led the revival of Kaningarra juju. With Rosie Goodjie, Dolly Snelll, Nada Rawlins, Jewess James and Daisy Andrews they passed the song and dance for this Country to a new generation for the first time since the death of Donkeyman Benny, the last Kaningarra boss. Jukuja was promised to Donkeyman as a child, and in accordance with desert tradition, he ‘grew her up’ and cared for her as his future wife until she was old enough to be married. Throughout their marriage she learned the songs and ceremonies for Kaningarra.

Traditional knowledge: Kaningarra was never performed for a long time, so what we did at Ngumpan was get the old fellas together and we talked about trying to get Kaningarra back, the dance, the songs. There’s only one old fella [Spider Snell] who still knows how to sing that song as well as the old ladies. All the bosses for Kaningarra have passed away. Spider wanted to pass it on to the rightful owners before he passed away … All the old people been singing it and teaching it to Pampirla [Hansen Boxer] because he’s a Kaningarra man and he can carry that on. Old ladies been crying. It was like they were bringing something back from the dead. Spider’s a Kurtal man. We need to keep that carrying on because Kaningarra and Kurtal are like brothers in the Dreamtime. (Putuparri Tom Lawford, 2008)

My father been tellembut [telling] me, ‘My Country Kaningarra’. He been looking after that place. We still looking after that place. Long time married but today we single now, looking after Country and story, old people time. When we go there la [to] Kaningarra we always cry [for] Country, me and my sister. When we go there we sing this one, ‘We been come visitor for you’. We say with that snake, ‘The family been come for Walmajarri [side]’. The colour change, that hills, orange, yellow, brown, every afternoon time.

[In the Dreamtime] that two Nangala [sisters], twofella been looking for louse [in each other’s hair]. That Tjungurrayi, [their husband, came back from hunting and they hadn’t cooked any food for him. He] been go round and he been tell ‘em, ‘Eh! You can look ‘em this!’ Boomerang, it was throw. One [sister] been fall, and nother one been sitting down, been slip down. He been throw that boomerang this way from Piparr [south east of Balgo]. That two my sisters, that two Nangala now. That Dreamtime. They turn into that pamarr [rock, Twin Heads]. I been get that word from my father before he passed away. Teaching us story. (Nana Daisy Kungah, 2009)

Kaningarra was a great jila man, and a powerful maparn [magic man] who turned into the spring Kaningarra during Jukurrpa, this then became Well 48 on the Canning Stock Route. Kaningarra is a major rainmaking site.

As he was nearing the end of his life as a man and preparing to enter Kaningarra jila as a kalpurtu, an ancestral rainbow snake, his powers were beginning to wane. Kurtal jila had been travelling across the desert to the coast visiting other jila men and stealing their sacred objects. On his way home to his own jila, Kurtal stopped to visit his friend Kaningarra.

That jila Kaningarra was waiting for him. Kurtal and Kaningarra are yalpurrus. They’re mates. Kaningarra told Kurtal, ‘Let’s lay down here then we can be together [as kalpurtu].’ Kurtal tricked him and said, ‘You lie down over there and I’ll lay down here.’ Then Kaningarra went into the ground and turned into a snake, kalpurtu, and today that waterhole Kaningarra is still there. Kurtal kept on going, carrying all them stolen objects in a coolaman to his country. (Ngilpirr Spider Snell, 2007)

Kaningarra song:

'I am Kaningarra. Standing in my Country, I look to the south.

'What is this thing chasing me? I’m a maparn [magic man] but these devil dogs are frightening me. I hit them with my powers.

'Streaks of lightning are flashing in the distance. A storm is gathering all around. Lightning is flashing on top of the hills like fire, I hide underground. A waterhole forms in the earth.

'A storm cloud is raining in the distance but it is coming closer. Lightning strikes on the hill. Another waterhole is formed from the sky.

'The storm is approaching from the north-west, sprinkling lightly like mist. It rains a little bit.

'In the north, a Jangala man looks out, standing on one leg near the sea. He is painted up, carrying a spear and a boomerang. He drinks the rainwater and dances back and forth, bringing the song from the north.'

In addition to the main song for Kaningarra Jila, other rainmaking songs, such as this one, converge here:

'Kitil and Wiyirr birds migrate towards the storm, bringing the rain.

'Puddles form, little streams run on the groud. People walk through pools of water.

'Rain makes the waters run like a river. Foaming up, the waters meet and flood.

Well data: 1906 water quality: Excellent.

1906 total depth (m): 20

Current quality of well: Derelict, caved in.

Current quality of water: No water.
-20.24844/126.52329
Related art centre(s): Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, Ngurra Artists, Paruku Indigenous Protected Area

Media title: Jila Kaningarra
Media creator: Nicole Ma
Date: 2010

Media description: This video shows Pampirla Hansen Boxer performing Kaningarra at Ngumpan in 2008. In this section of the dance, Pampirla Hansen Boxer enacts Kaningarra as he fights off an attack by devil dogs.
Media Copyright: FORM
Format: Video
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0089_0003

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.

Video Title: Nana

Video Description: Filmed at Kilykily (Well 36) on the 2007 Canning Stock Route return to Country trip, Nana follows the story of Martumili artist Jakayu Biljabu, who grew up in the Country around Well 25. Morika Biljabu is the granddaughter of Jakayu, thus the title Nana.

Date created: 2007
People: Jakayu Biljabu, Morika Biljabu
Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists, CSR Project
Place of creation: Well 36, Kilykily, singing, travelling, Jigalong, Kartarru, Nyilangkurr, Well 25, Wantili
Latitude/Longitude: -22.13954/125.28315
Language: Manyjilyjarra

Director: Morika Biljabu
Editor: Paul Elliott
Camera: Morika Biljabu
Translator: Desmond Taylor, Bobby Roberts, Monique La Fontaine
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © Morika Biljau and FORM Canning Stock Route Project, 2007
Clip length: 0:03:58
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Source: Screen 4 Video
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20130920_FORM_MIRA_B0023_0003

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.

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