Yanawal by Burrnanydji #2 Gaykamanu Lisa

Details of Yanawal

Catalog Number : 833862
Size : 79cm x 66cm
Medium : Bark Painting With Ochre
For Sale : Contact Short St Gallery
Note : All artworks are subject to availability. Prices are inclusive of GST but do not include shipping and handling charges.
About Yanawal
This work is from the fresh water (inland) area known as Yanawal. This is a Marrakulu clan area whose ‘creation’ is associated with Wuyal the Sugerbag Man, Mayawa Frill Neck Lizard and the quoll or native cat which bears that name, Yanawal, And also Dhulaku the male euro.

Conventionally, between first contact and 2000, works made for the art market containing this miny’tji would be 'covered' by representations of these actors. This is a historical response to the Western market’s desire to see sacred paintings. To dilute the full force of the power of the law and to distinguish from strictly ceremonial paintings these ‘pictures’ of ancestral beings are almost always placed over the miny’tji. This work however ignores that convention and the artist shows their authority in Yolnu law and also their background as a ceremonial artist. This is the design that is painted on the chests of some of the initiates at circumcision ceremonies.

The importance of this work is the stony country of Yanawal, where activities of Wuyal the Sugarbag Man were that of seeking honey and felling trees transforming the landscape as he went - for example the Gurka’wuy River that runs into Trial Bay at Gurka’wuy was created in this way. Gurka’wuy goes back from the beaches close to the mouth of the Gurka’wuy River through stringybark (and cypress pine) Savannah that rises into scattered granite boulders and cycad palms. The Djuwany (Wawalak) Sisters in disguise as Yanawal the wild cat witnessed the events of Wuyal as did Dhulaku who is custodian of this place.

Buried in this design are all the elements of the songs of this area; Wuyal’s boomerang, running freshwater over this stony country, honey and the bees, and the blossom of the sacred Wanambi (a stringybark) tree. These are amongst the many manifestations of law to be found in this Marrakulu clan design for this country.

Wuyal journeyed from the stone quarry at Ŋilibidji with his poison cousin Mayawa past Trial Bay and came later to create Nhulun known as Mt. Saunders the site of the present day ‘Nhulunbuy’ or place associated with Nhulun.

Trial Bay is located between Caledon bay to the north and above the larger Blue Mud Bay on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Deep inside Trial Bay the Marrakulu clan claim ownership to land and sea though the actions and events of Ancestor Beings as they travelled into this country imbuing both land and sea. The mark of ownership is sung, danced and painted in Marrakulu ritual through the stringy bark woodlands and stony country, through the freshwaters running into the Gurka’wuy River into trial Bay. Mixing with the salt waters through sacred mangroves and froth and bubble and out deeper into the Bay with the outgoing tide, past boulders and rocky islets the power and knowledge associated with Marrakulu Rom (law) washes back to shore. This country is associated with the Wawalak Sisters, sacred goannas, Wuyal the Sugerbag Man and the original inhabitants of Gurka’wuy since these times, the Djuwany people. The Djuwany were the first people of this country who practised the ritual according to the Creators on the beaches, who hunted the stony country and waters of both the River and Trial Bay.

The songs refer to Bamurrunu, a sacred and solitary rock in Trial Bay. It is a white dome in the Bay - a round lump of granite its top coloured white by roosting birds, in the lapped by the molmulpa or white sea foam associated with turbulent and agitating waters created by particular tide and wind. The fish which swim up to Bamurruŋu are referred to as Marparrarr or milk fish, somewhat like a large mullet. These were once people of the stone country behind where the Marrakulu have now settled close the mouth of the Gurka’wuy river. They turned to Marparrarr on reaching the shore and following the feathered string to Bamurrunu. The Beings of Marparrarr were the ‘same’ as the original inhabitants of Gurka’wuy, in this manifestation, populating Marrakulu sea country as land totems do in this area. Yolnu of this area speak of a hole submerged under the rock, from where bubbles are seen rising to the surface, sometimes bursting forth with a rush. The bubbles are seen as a life force and a direct Ancestral connection for the Marrakulu. The Marparrarr have knowledge of this special phenomenon as do the law men. The rock is like a ‘statue’ for Mali Djuluwa Makaratjpi. When the Marrakulu perform ritual dance for the events mentioned here participants move towards a held spear representing the steadfastness of the rock, splitting the dancers who then surround Bamurrunu moving as does the sea to song and rhythm of Yidaki and Bilma. Bamurrungu is seen as part of a set of three rocks which stand in the mouth of Trial Bay submerged either completely or partially within its waters. The waters of Gurka’wuy River flow out through Trial Bay past these rocks conflicting and clashing in a turbulent unity with the incoming tidal waters from the deep ocean. Their names rarely spoken are Dundiwuy, Bamurrungu and Yilpirr. In sacred song, Bamurrunu, a sacred and monolithic rock in the mouth of Trial Bay lies submerged within its waters surrounded by these fish; Buku- Dungulmirri or Wawurritjpal, Sea Mullet. As teh Marrakulu dance they are the schools of fish. When their soul’s progress is momentarily barred by the obstacle of the rock (mortality) they act as these fish do and leave the dimension they know and leap into the air before returning to the familiar dimension of water. This mirrors the cyclical nature of Yolngu spiritual progress.

Bamurrunu is a spiritual focus for an alliance of clans who share identity connected with the felling of the Stringy bark tree. Wuyal the Ancestral Sugarbag Man, while in Marrakulu clan country, cut the sacred Wanambi (hollowed Stringy bark tree) looking for native honey. Its falling path gouged the course for the Gurka’wuy River that has flowed ever since into Trial Bay. The hollow log’s movements in and out with the tides and currents completing the kinship connections of the various waters are the subject of ritual song and dance of this country. The Marrakulu sing these events (with other clans) during ceremony associated with the Wawalak myth. In other clan’s lands these actions were repeated. These groups dance songs of honey flowing like rivers of freshwater from fonts deep in the saltwater under the rock. The rivers belonging to these clans; the Marrakulu, Golumala, Marranu and Wawilak flow (spiritually) towards this rock. This work depicts the water clashing as it plays and mingles with that of the Djapu and Dhapuynu clans. This Balamumu oceanic salt water rushing into the bay creates eddies, currents and patterns that delineate the relationship between the Djapu and Marrakulu clans. This relationship is referred to as Märi-Gutharra. The maternal grandmother clan and its granddaughter. These waters are in this relationship as well. This is known as the ‘backbone’. One of the key relationships in a complex kinship system whose reciprocal duties are most powerful. These clans are both Dhuwa and share responsibilities for circumcising and burying each others clan members. A matriarchal analysis of the world that governs the behaviour of both sexes equally.