Djirriḏiḏi (forest kingfisher)


55 x 44 cm / PAINTING – Ochre on Bark

In stock


Djan’kawu sisters are travelling from the Yirratjingu people at Yalangbarra (on the east Arnhem mainland), to the Djapu clan further south where they sing with biḻma (clap sticks) and yidaki (didgeridoo) and then west to the Datiwuy clan. These ancestors then travelled west to Garriyak which is south of Gali’winku (Elcho Island). We (the Garrawurra people) sing two songs about them with biḻma, they aren’t really songs, they are stories.

Wherever they stopped, the Djan’kawu sisters changed their language, names, clan, ceremony and customs. They gave these things to the people at each place. They also made Gapu Milminydjarrk or Milngurr (water holes) by poking their Dhorna (digging sticks) into the ground. Some of these waters are sacred but some are alright to drink from.

The Sisters gave miku (red), watharr (white) and buthalak (yellow) ochre colours for us to paint with. We use them for the Ŋarra law ceremony, which is a cleansing ceremony, performed when people die. These designs also refer to our clan totem animals including nyoka (crab), weḏu (fresh water cat fish), buwaṯa (turkey), ngatili (black cockatoo) and the worrudj (colourful parrot).

The red, white and yellow striped design is painted on most participants in the Garrawurra Ŋarra (cleansing) or Bäpurru (funeral) ceremony. The Garrawurra artists create many variations of this geometric design that symbols the different designs and how they develop during the stages of ceremony. Some artworks contain large fields of miku or radjpa (red) these represent the body being prepared to be painted at the beginning of the ceremony. 

Large areas of watharr (white clay) on the top and bottom of a work represent the painted face at the final stages of the Ŋarra or Bäpurru ceremonies which are associated with the buwaṯa (bush turkey) totem. A particular variation of this, which looks like a ‘key hole’ design. In this variation the white area is given borders of miku ga buthjalak (red and yellow ochre). This can be applied to the back and chest of senior people.

A single diagonal stripe can be worn by a senior male participant in the Ŋarra ceremony. A second intersecting stripe is painted onto the senior mans body during the final stages of the Ŋarra ceremony to signify a return to the Garrawurra clan homeland of Garriyak.

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SKU: 173-202020 Category: Tag: