126 x 45 cm
Bid on this piece
About the Artist
Manman (also known as Wuyal) is a leader of the Dhudi-Djapu clan. He resides at his ancestral homelands of Dhuruputjpi on the Wayawu River, about 250kms south of Yirrkala and about 20kms away from the Blue Mud Bay coast. The extremely rich and fertile country of Dhuruputjpi is an ancient residence for his people, on the edge of vast areas of open woodland with great fishing from the permanent and sacred freshwater shaded by massive stands of paperbark, to huge plains that flood every year and support thousands of brolga and other water birds.
In more recent times Manman’s classificatory father lived there. He was Dhakiyarr, the man who fatally speared Const. McColl, who was tried, found guilty, then acquitted before mysteriously disappearing on his release from Fannie Bay Gaol in Darwin. Manman and his brother were the main protaganists of the Wukidi ceremony in 2003 which memorialised and reconciled this tragic event. The film Dhakiyarr v The King by Film Australia tracks this memorable ceremony.
About the Work
This work depicts early events during ancestral (and present) times at Yalata close to the Dhudi-Djapu clan homeland of Dhuruputjpi (about three hours drive South West from Yirrkala). It is a coastal fringe area, this Dhudi Djapu homeland, that has territory leading up a river through plains country behind an area of coast on Blue Mud Bay. The plain is tidal and during the wet seasons it is flooded by the rains and tidal surge creating areas of brackish water. During the dry season the grass and black earth dry out. Then the fires come, turning a swamp into a huge plain of cracked black earth. Fresh water springs dot this sun baked plain forming small islands of vegetation and as Rarrandada (the hot time) builds the thirsty birds come to these sacred springs in their thousands. The noise of the gu[urrku or dhaŋgultji (brolgas) and gurrumaṯji (magpie geese) are deafening, the mud scored with their tracks and the sky dark with the flocks of wheeling birds.
In ancestral times, activities of Mäna the shark and the Djaŋ’kawu took place here. The Djaŋ’kawu - the Dhuwa moiety Creator Beings, in naming this country for the Dhudi Djapu, created these sacred fresh water spring fed waterholes by plunging their sacred digging sticks in the ground. Freshwater sprung from these wells as did a sacred goanna, a manifestation in some circles of the Djaŋ’kawu themselves. Story has it that on surfacing the goanna saw the first sun rise. Also on the wet clays around the wells the goanna observed the footprints of Daŋgultji the Brolga. The prints of the Brolga passing from spring to spring are an echo and a present day manifestation of the Sisters who adopted the form of the brolga in their travels between springs as portrayed by the roundrel.