Ṉaku Muwaṉgi’ŋur


47 x 11cm / HOLLOW LOG – Ochre on Wood

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This painting belongs to Djipurrtjun’s Ganalbiŋu Malibirr clan and depicts the vast waters of Muwaṉgi, or Arafura Swamp, located south of Ramingining. Muwaṉgi is the largest wooded-swamp in Australia and is a key freshwater ecosystem in north Australia. 
Pictured are the Ganalbiŋu Malibirr ṉaku (sewn bark canoe), which are used during the start of the wet season to collect mapu gurramaṯji ga bäru (magpie goose and saltwater crocodile eggs). Ṉaku have a distinctive shape with a bowed and pointy nose that pierces through the heavy grasses and sedges that grow in Muwaṉgi. These canoes were made famous in the Rolf de Heer film ’10 Canoes’. 
Djipurrtjun was inspired by looking at similar historic paintings by his märi-mu (paternal grandfather), acclaimed painters George Milpurrurru and Ŋulmarmar at the art centre’s Djalkiri Keeping Place. 
“I got this story from my märi-mu. It’s a history story. Me and my brothers got this, like a bed-time story from our märi-mu. We would lie down for sleep and he would tell us all the stories. 
Djipurrtjun explains that these foods are only available at the beginning of the wet season after the first rains have fallen and the mukuluk (spear grass) begins to grow: “We know when we see the mukuluk, fresh one, spikey… when he’s growing fresh and green we go get gurrumaṯji mapu (magpie geese eggs). The white dots that fill the ṉaku are the eggs from these birds and the surrounding fine lines depict the rräkay or djewuḻ, the freshwater seaweeds that full the swamp. 
I remember when I was a young boy with my märi-mu. We go out looking for goose eggs, crocodile eggs, long-neck turtles, duck eggs and water snakes – too many! We used those ṉakuthe bark canoe. My märi-mu would make them. Cut the bark and burn him to make the shape, sew it up at the front and back. Then we could get all that food. Too clever my märi-mu.”


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SKU: 496-222022 Category: Tag: