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Reproduced courtesy of Nyuka Marawili

Gunda at Djarrakpi

Date: 1998
Overall: 1025 × 400 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Nyuka Marawili
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033754
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This is one of 80 barks that were painted by the Yolnu (people) of East Arnhem Land. The artist is telling a story concerned with the mortuary rites of her grandmother's Mangalili clan. At the centre is a representation of the clan's foundation rock surrounded by the totem of the Yambirrku (Parrot fish). Ancestral stories recount that this is where the ancestor Muwandi speared the Yambirrku.
    SignificanceThis bark is representative of the people belonging to the Mangalili clan in the homeland of Djarrakpi and their connection with the Saltwater Country. It demonstrates the efforts of the Yolnu people through the Saltwater Project to express their stories and ownership of East Arnhem Land.
    HistoryThe Yol?u people of East 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 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 that stressed the importance of Yolnu land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape.

    The Yol?u have been involved in the land rights struggle since the 1960s. They are currently 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, rights, customs and law continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Gunda at Djarrakpi

    Web title: Gunda at Djarrakpi

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

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