Guḻa’ Warrnyu ga Gapu Raypiny (Flying Fox Bat Faeces and Fresh Water)


40 x 16cm / PAINTING – Ochre on Bark

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This painting is of an important Ganalbiŋu Malibirr songline about warrnyu (Flying Fox) and the flow of different Dhuwa and Yirritja waters throughout Malibirr country and onwards, connecting them in reciprocal ceremonial relationships with other clans.

This painting shows the small flower-like representations of guḻa’ warrnyu (bat faeces) amongst the Yirritja gapu raypiny (freshwaters) of Barra’ŋur and Ŋaliyindi, a sacred watercourse that follows an underground aqueduct across Malibirr country and connects this clan with other nearby clans. These waters flow between the deep waters of the Ŋaliyindi billabong – the artist’s homeland – and Meliway, a thin and turbulent stretch of water that separates Laŋarra (Howard Island) and the mainland. When shown in these paintings the moving waters are represented by rärrk (cross-hatching).

Warrnyu gather in large numbers around the fresh waters at Barra’ŋur and the large billabong at the Ganalbiŋu homeland of Ŋaliyindi. This warrnyu miny’tji (Flying Fox design) holds a sacred story that is painted on boys’ and mens’ bodies during ceremonies including Dhäpi (men’s initiation ceremony) and Ŋärra’ (cleansing ceremony). The warrnyu story follows the travels of the Flying Foxes and the waters that they congregate at, and in the process, connect Ganalbiŋu with others where the bats and the water pass through their estates. The artist tells the story:

“All those warrnyu are living there at Barra’ŋur – buŋgan warrnyunhan – smelling that smell of sweet flower [from the Melaleuca trees] in the air. They are noisy! Big family there – big ones, small ones, baby ones. They calling out that gurtha (burning fire) – with their big noise. Then that fire came and they flew to a different camp – my camp, Yirritja place; Muwaṉgi, Ŋaliyindi – deep billabong that one. But all that area is one, all Ganalbiŋu. We follow that gapu (water) with our song, meeting other tribes. That story is long time one, old one. There’s more to that story, but not for here.”

Story by Matthew Djipurrtjun and Peter Djurrgurr. Recorded and written by Max Moon. Edited by Salome Harris with Matthew Djipurrtjun.

Additional information

SKU: 10-242024 Category: Tag: