Dhukururru (Sacred Rock) – Darryl Yatjany



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Size/ medium: 81 x 61 cm / FRAMED BOARD – Ochre on Board

Two dhukururru (sacred rocks) crossed over from Gopiya at Ḻaŋarra (Howard Island) to the mainland to get food, and then travelled upstream through Miliway and around the island. Ḻaŋarra is their country. These Wobulkarra dhukururru are called Gayindamawuy. The two rocks are female. In this variation of the design, Gayindamawuy are represented as one rock. Its red ochre ḻiya (head) can be seen in the top section, and its red triangular nyaŋura (legs) at the bottom. It stands in the mud at Gopiya.

The head of the dhukururru also represents the baltha (tail) of the Ŋuykal, the Giant Trevally, that connects saltwater Yirritja clans as it travels. This version of the Ŋuykal tail is a modern rendition of the design. Yatjany explains that the more geometrical, straight-sided tail featured in historic paintings (including some of his own works) is an older variation of the design.

The interconnecting diamond shapes are the ḻatjin (mangrove worms) which are plentiful in the mangroves on Wobulkarra saltwater country and are a much cherished food source. The yellow in-fill in the top third of the painting is sand.

Between Ḻaŋarra island and the mainland runs a channel of water known as Miliway, which is also the name of a site near the mouth where it flows out to sea. Yatjany describes this water as “sharp” – the power of it can break things up; it cut this channel, breaking Ḻaŋarra off from the mainland. This channel can only be crossed on low tide. The white cross-hatching is raŋ – the white caps or sea foam of these rough waters.

Yatjany tells of how, at night, you can see glowing lights in the waters of Miliway – black, red and white. “They’re scary – there’s something inside”, he explains. He tells of how the dhukururru floats. “One time I saw it on white sand”, he tells. “Yaka nhe dhu nhäma”, said his father “Don’t look”, “Yurrthurr” – “Bow your head”.

Yatjany’s daughter Gayindamawuy is named after the Wobulkarra dhukururru, featured in this painting.

This artwork has been framed by Don Whyte Framing. It is ready hang.