Guku galinyin (Yirritja honey body paint design) (#MILJD010314)
Ochre on canvas, 74 x 44 cm, 2014
This design belongs Gupapuyŋu people of the Yirritja moiety. It is used for body painting in the Ŋarra men’s ceremony and Dhapi (‘making man’) ceremony. When the Ŋarra ceremony is finished, Yirritja participants dance to the salt water and are cleansed by people of the Dhuwa moiety who splash them, washing the body paint off.
The central diamond pattern in the work represents Guku Galanyin (bush honey wax). The sharp triangular shape at the centre top indicate the ‘nose’ of the Galanyin (bee hive) that protrudes from the hive and can be seen on the outside of the tree which hosts it. In the lower two-thirds of this work the diamond shapes represent native guku at different stages of development. The rarrk (cross hatching) infill on indicates flowing guku (honey), while the solid white, black, red and yellow symbolise the guku at different stages of maturity.
shaded block at the base of the work is the dhurrdi dharpa (tree stump), symbolic of the importance of foundational knowledge held by Gupapuyngu people. Nany’burrurr (ceremonial feather string) hang from each side of the central motif and refer to ceremonial dilly bags and sacred knowledge. Wunkura (bandicoot), another important totem animal associated with this ceremonial cycle, is represented by its dash like scratch marks in each corner of the design.
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