"Other clan groups were reluctant to bring their knowledge into the open; they moved back to their homelands and never expressed their Law to the public. But my family did. They were lawmakers and peacemakers, making good governance, peace, law and order. And they taught me the Law of the Djan’kawu and Wuyal and Wägilak.
My father told me, “Other Yolŋu will see that you have many stories and strong Law. They will recognize it and say, ‘Yes, it is the same, like our Dreaming, the same Law.’” This is because the Djan’kawu moved from one Country to another, connecting all of the Dhuwa clans by their spiritual ties to the two sisters. And that is the knowledge my father gave to me."
– WANYUBI MARIKA
During the Waŋarr (Ancestral times), the Honey ancestor Wuyal felled a honey-filled tree at Barrkirra, on the western side of Melville Bay, near Dholtji. The honey, whose ancestral name is Marrmiriny, spilled into the water at a place called Gilmirrtjpi. The current named Molmulpa carried the honey until the wax within it accreted and turned into the rock island Yilibawuy. Although this homeland is occupied by Golumala clan, it belongs to the Ḏäṯiwuy. It is sung by these two clans, as well as by the Rirratjiŋu clan.
This painting was created as part of the Kluge-Ruhe Maḏayin commission and is the first time that this design has been painted for non-Yolŋu viewers.
– Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka
Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
74 13/32 x 32 43/64
191 x 83
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia. The 2017–19 Kluge-Ruhe Maḏayin Commission, Purchased with funds provided by Terry Snowball and Machel Monenerkit, and Margo Smith AM and Tom Cogill, 2022.
About The Artist(s)
Wanyubi Marika is the son of Milirrpum Marika, the claimant in Australia’s first native title case. Wanyubi began painting as part of the Saltwater Project in 1997 and later served as chair of the Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre. An important community leader, he was part of the curatorial team for Maḏayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala.