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Reproduced courtesy of Mulkun Wirrpanda

Dhanarr at Lutumba

Date: 1998
Overall: 1740 × 720 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Mulkun Wirrpanda
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033820
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark depicts the ancestral shark Mäna in the country of Lutumba and is associated with the mortuary rituals of the Dhudi-djapu clan. The soul of the deceased is manifested as the shark who is guided to the ancestral spirit home of Burralkun via the sacred line of Yaltharr. The saltwater country of Lutumba is shared by the Djapu, Dhudi-Djapu, Marrakulu, Wanapuynu, Dhukayana and Wawilak clans.
    SignificanceMulkun is a senior woman with profund knowledge.
    The work depicts Mäna the Ancestral shark in Lutumba – the saltwaters of country shared by the Dhuwa clans of the Djapu, Dhudi-Djapu, Marrakulu and the Wanapuy?u, Dhukayana and Wawiläk.
    This bark is indicative of the people belonging to the Dhuwa moiety of the Dhudi-djapu clan in the homeland of Dhuruputjpi. It was painted as part of a project by the traditional Yol?u of East Arnhem Land in an attempt to educate outsiders about their laws, rights and customs.
    HistoryThe Yol?u 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 Yol?u people’s way of life and prominent themes in their bark paintings.

    The Saltwater Project began in 1996 after 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 Yol?u 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 Yol?u land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape and sacred Indigenous places.

    The Yol?u 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: Dhanarr at Lutumba

    Primary title: Dhanarr at Lutumba

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

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