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Reproduced courtesy of Wukun Wanambi

Bamurunu from Manybalala

Date: 1998
Overall: 1750 × 740 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Wukun Wanambi
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033818
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark painting portrays an icon of the Marrakulu Foundation in the shape of a black triangle. Two palm trees and two white oysters are depicted at the bottom of the painting in reference to Djuwany, the two sisters who inhabited the land of Manybalala. The white oyster at the top of the icon relates to Wuyal the Sugarbag man who cut down the rock Bamurunu in search of wild honey. The artist has used the miny'tji (sacred clan design) to represent the life force of the Marrakulu clan and choppy waters. The triangle icon holds a number of meanings for the Marrakulu clan.
    SignificanceThis bark is representative of the people belonging to the Dhuwa moiety of the Marrakulu clan in the homeland of Gurka'wuy. It is one of 80 barks painted by the Yolnu people of East Arnhem Land for the Saltwater Project.
    HistoryThe Yolnu people of Arnhem Land inhabit a landscape that was formed by the actions of ancestral beings, who can take both human and animal form. For instance water now flows where these creatures walked and hills have formed where they died. Ancestral time is not just in the past but also the present and future. In light of this the sacred landscape and stories of East Arnhem Land are central to the Yolnu people’s way of life and prominent themes in their bark paintings.

    The Saltwater Project was instigated in 1996 when an illegal fishing camp was discovered at Garranali, a sacred Aboriginal site in East Arnhem Land. This sacred area is home to the ancestral crocodile Bäru and found among the litter of the illegal camp was the severed head of a crocodile. This discovery prompted the local Yolnu people to produce a series of bark paintings that expressed the rules, philosophies and stories of their region. The project culminated in the production of 80 barks and allowed the Indigenous community to educate others about the social history, geography and personal stories of their traditional homeland. They stressed the importance of Yolnu land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape and sacred Indigenous places.

    The Yolnu have been involved in the land rights struggle since the 1960s. They currently are recognised as the traditional owners of northeast Arnhem Land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. This act was passed in the Northern Territory in 1976 and is seen as the benchmark in the recognition of Aboriginal land ownership in Australia. Despite this the issues of Indigenous land ownership, rights, customs and law continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Bamurunu from Manybalala

    Primary title: Bamurunu from Manybalala

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

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