"This painting is by Waitjuŋ Munuŋgirritj. It shows the creek at Birany’birany. Munuŋgirritj is bottom Gumatj (Yarrwiḏi-Gumatj). But bottom and top Gumatj (Rrakpaḻa-Gumatj) can ask each other for permission to paint each other’s designs. We ask each other, “Do you want me to paint Yarrwiḏi-Gumatj?” or “Do you want me to paint Rrakpaḻa-Gumatj?” And we can make an agreement, but the songlines are the same. Yolŋu are not like ŋäpaki (non-Yolŋu); our relationships are complicated. But if you trespass this area, the river goes into Maḏarrpa Country—Djambawa’s area. Yes, Maḏarrpa: that is what it is like: märi and gutharra, grandmother and grandchild. But Waitjuŋ has painted the Gumatj River. Otherwise, he would have painted two creeks: two creeks that join into one like in the painting by my wäwa (brother) Miṉyiyawany Dhäkuwal Yunupiŋu: that is top Gumatj and Maḏarrpa, joining into one and going out to the ocean.
But, in this work, Waitjuŋ Munuŋgirritj has painted the Gumatj River and Bäru, the Saltwater Crocodile, heading toward Birany’birany. Bäru traveled from Maḏarrpa Country to Gumatj Country bringing the fire with him all the way to a place called Yolŋu-Munygunhamirri. The fire followed behind on the back of Bäru, burning the place called Binmil, and then spread all over. Yes, the fire connects all these places."
– YÄLPI YUNUPIŊU
Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
60 1/4 x 24 1/4
153.0 x 61.6
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia. Edward L. Ruhe Collection. Gift of John W. Kluge, 1997. 1993.0004.855
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About The Artist(s)
Waidjung, Waijung, Waitjug, Wychung
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia
Pieces By Decade