This work depicts the Dhuwa moiety Mäṉa (shark), who inhabits this site named Waṉḏaŋur at the boundary of Ḏäṯiwuy and Wangurri clan estates east of Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island). Waṉḏaŋur is where the Yirritja moiety Gapu Guḻarri (fresh water) and Dhuwa moiety Gapu Murrupu (salt water) mix. Conceptually, this merging represents the ceremonial relationship between Ḏäṯiwuy (Dhuwa) and Wangurri (Yirritja) clans. These two clans and their ancestral estates are related to each-other as mother-child, a ceremonially binding relationship in the Yolŋu sphere known as Yothu Yindi, (meaning ‘mother and child’ or ‘big family’), which is symbolic of all interdependent ceremonial relationships.
The Dhukururru (sacred rock) is at the mouth of a river or in the language of that country, djarŋguḻk at Dhälinybuy. This country belongs to the Yirritja clan, Wangurri Munyarryun, the artist’s mother’s country. The rock is inundated by salt water on high tides. The salt-water flows around its top half while heavier fresh river water continues to flow around its base. In this story Mäṉa is swimming south from the Ḏäṯiwuy homeland Rorruwuy, following Dhuwa moiety saltwater currents which are depicted by the rärrk (cross-hatching) in this work. When encountering the Dhukururru on a high tide, the Mäṉa attempts to swim through the legs of the Dhukururru and gets stuck. The Dhukururru then asks the Mäṉa in her Wangurri language, ’please don’t swim through my legs or cover my eyes, swim around my head’. The Mäṉa agrees and then says to the Dhukururru speaking his Ḏäṯiwuy language, ‘Mother, don’t make the water dirty, I’ll swim over the top of you so I can see’.
This bark comes strapped and ready to hang