Märrma’ Djanda (Two Goannas)



1 in stock

SKU: 5-222022 Category: Tag:



Category: PAINTING

Size/ medium: 122 x 42 cm / PAINTING – Ochre on Board

This painting shows the close maternal connections between the Dhuwa moiety Biritjama and Garrawurra clans of Central Arnhem Land. They relate to each other as märi-gutharra (maternal grandmother and grandchild).

The two outside panels show ṉirriwan’ (saltwater oysters), which allude to the Djaŋ’kawu sisters who travelled through Arnhem Land and gave all Dhuwa things their name, language and law. The coloured rärrk (cross-hatching) used to fill in these oysters identify them as Garrawurra and represent their sacred homeland of Gärriyak, one of the places where the Djaŋ’kawu Sisters stopped and created waterholes.

The coloured central panel shows two Birritjama Djanda (Goannas) resting in the sun. The central element depicts their home, with two holes on each side that burrow underground. As Djanda are a maḏayin (totem) shared by many clans across Arnhem Land, it is the colours used to dot these holes that identifies the Djanda depicted here as Birritjama, and that connects them to the Birritjama homeland of Gurawana. 

The central-left panel filled with white rärrk (cross-hatching) represents gapu moṉuk (salty or brackish water) that connects these two clans and their homelands together in their märi-gutharra relationship.


Told by B. Wulawula. Recorded and written by Max Moon 3/11/2021. Checked by Salome Harris 11/11/2021.