This Larratjtja (Barracuda) is perhaps the most important ancestor for the Mäḻarra clan of the Crocodile Islands around Milingimbi. Danced and sung at most ceremonies, especially life-cycle ceremonies such as dhapi (boy’s initiation) and bäpurru (funeral), the life cycle of the Larratjtja is said to reflect life cycle of Mäḻarra people. Larratjtja are most closely connected with several sites around the deep water of nearby Murruŋga island, where they congregate, feed and breed depending on certain times of the year.
Depicted on the body of the Larratjtja are the star-like djewuḻ, small amoeba-like sea creatures that have can have a bioluminescent glow that is food for the Larratjtja; Ḏikarr (flying fish), which is often found with schools of Larratjtja; and Yaḻurr, the ancestral sea snake of the saltwater Mäḻarra clan. For Mäḻarra, these creatures are all considered a family that look after one another, with the Larratjtja considered like the parent of the group. During Miḏawarr, the early dry season, Ḏikarr are often found resting on the back of the Larratjtja in the deep water off the north of Murrŋga. From this we learn that we must take of one another, especially those smaller or more vulnerable than us.
This miny’tji belongs to the artist’s märipulu (mother’s mother clan) for which he is a ritual executive, holding the songs, designs and ceremonies.
Told by David Mabubu. Recorded and written by Max Moon 9/11/2022