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Reproduced courtesy of Gawirrin Gumana

Dhalwaŋu at Garraparra

Date: 1998
Overall (Depth measured April 2015): 2210 × 1080 × 40 mm, 12.9 kg
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Gawirrin Gumana
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033784
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark painting refers to the saltwater country of the Madarrpa clan at Garraparra in Djalma Bay. The beach is depicted at the top of the painting with the sand sculpture Yinapunapu in the shallow water below. The two ancestral hunters, Yikawana and Nurruguyamirr are shown standing beside their canoe with the turtle Yinipunayi. A number of sacred rocks are depicted along with three storm clouds on the horizon, representing the clans of the Dhalwanu, Madarrpa and Mangalili.
    SignificanceThis bark is representative of the people in the Yirritja moiety in the Dhalwa?u clan in the homeland of Gangan. It was painted as part of the Saltwater project by the Yol?u people in East Arnhem Land to educate outsiders about their traditional stories, laws 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 in 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 feature prominently 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 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. It also 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 for 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

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

    Primary title: Dhalwanu at Garraparra

    Web title: Dhalwaŋu at Garraparra

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