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Reproduced courtesy of Liyawaday Wirrpanda

Dhuwa Turtle Hunt

Date: 1998
Overall: 1650 × 430 mm, 3900 g
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Liyawaday Wirrpanda
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033766
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark painting depicts the ancestral hunters in canoes as they follow the sacred turtle Dhalwatpu out to sea. Yathiny, the food source of the turtle is depicted at the top of the painting surrounded by two moonfish, Milika. This painting depicts the saltwater area known as Lutumba to the people of the Dudi-Djapu clan.
    SignificanceThis story is related to the Dhudi-Djapu clan in the homeland of Dhuruputjpi. It was the artist's first solo painting and was produced for the Saltwater Project, in an effort by the Yolnu people of East Arnhem Land to educate others about their local stories and sacred sites.
    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.

    In 1996 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. It also stressed the importance of Yolnu land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape and the 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 for the recognition of Aboriginal land ownership in Australia. Despite this the issues surrounding Indigenous land ownership, rights, customs and laws continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Dhuwa Turtle Hunt

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

    Primary title: Dhuwa Turtle Hunt

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