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Reproduced courtesy of Bakulanay Marawili

Yathikpa I

Date: 1998
Dimensions:
Overall: 2300 × 700 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Bakulanay Marawili
Classification:Art
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033755
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    Description
    This bark painting shows the sacred country of Yathikpa. The black area in the centre of the bark represents the fire that sanctified the ground at Yathikpa and the hollow mortuary log Dhakuandjali. At the bottom of the painting are hunting tools and two hunters.
    SignificanceThis story is representative of the people of the Yirritja moiety of the Madarrpa clan in the homeland of Baniyala. It was one of a series of barks painted by the Yolnu people to share their stories and traditional laws in East Arnhem Land.
    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 Yolnu people’s way of life and prominent themes in their bark paintings.

    The Saltwater Project was initiated 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 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 Yolngu 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 of Indigenous land ownership, rights, customs and law continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Yathikpa I

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

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