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Reproduced courtesy of Dhukal Wirrpanda

Djapu Turtle Hunt

Date: 1998
Overall: 1630 × 650 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Dhukal Wirrpanda
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033764
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    Djapu ancestral hunters are depicted in the sacred saltwater of Gapuwarriku - an area of deep water in the saltwater country referred to as Lutumba.
    The interlocking strips of miny'tji (sacred clan design) specifically represent calm and clear water in which a turtle surfacing is easy to spot and chase.
    A sacred rock, Nitjurra, which is a manifestation of the turtle's shell, marks the spot of the turtle kill. Milika (the moonfish totem for the Dhuwa clans that are associated with this site) swim to the surface in the area. The turtle feeds on the floating anemone Yathiny, whose tentacles fan out like the sun. This hunt is re-enacted in mortuary rituals for the Djapu and associated peoples.
    SignificanceThis bark represents an important story of the people from the Dhudi-Djapu clan in the homeland of Dhuruputjpi, East Arnhem Land. It is one of 80 barks painted for the Saltwater Project in an effort to express Yol?u (people) stories, laws and sacred sites.
    HistoryIn 1996 an illegal fishing camp was discovered at Garranali, a sacred Aboriginal area in East Arnhem Land. It instigated the local Yol?u people to begin painting a series of barks to demonstrate their rules, philosophies and stories in the region. The end result was the production of 80 barks portraying the Saltwater Country of East Arnhem Land.

    The Yol?u people are intrinsically linked to the land and the saltwater coastline. In 1963 a Swiss mining company instigated a bauxite mine on their traditional lands. In opposition the Aboriginal community organised a petition that was signed on bark and sent to Parliament. The proposed development by the mining company and Australian Government was challenged by the Yol?u in court. However their claims of land ownership were dismissed. This historic event highlighted the issue of Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

    In 1976 the Aboriginal Land Rights Act was passed in the Northern Territory and is now seen as the benchmark in the recognition of Aboriginal land rights. The Yol?u were decreed the legal owners of northeast Arnhem Land, however their ownership did not extend into the Saltwater coastline. Only in July 2008 have Indigenous rights and use of the Arnhem Land coast been given precedence over commercial interests and fishing. The issues surrounding Aboriginal land rights, customs and laws continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

    Web title: Djapu Turtle Hunt

    Primary title: Djapu Turtle Hunt

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