"This is the painting belonging to Yarrinya. Yarrinya’s songs and ceremony are major ones. And it is powerful, the story relating to this place, this land. This painting is different from any other."
– BARAYUWA MUNUŊGURR
Many of Barayuwa’s most significant artworks reference his mother’s clan’s ancestral inheritance, particularly in relation to the story of the stranded whale called Mirinyuŋu on the shore at Yarrinya during the Waŋarr (ancestral time).
Following Yolŋu systems of kinship, which extend to all living things, the whale belonged to the Munyuku clan. Two spirit men from the Munyuku clan hunted and killed the whale considered their brother, and its body washed up onto the beach at Yarrinya, contaminating it with blood and fat.The hunters used stone knives to sever the whale’s tail and cut its body into long strips.
Disgusted by their own actions, they threw their knives into the sea, forming a dangerous hidden reef. The bones of the whale are also said to have become a part of the rocks in the ocean.
The whale’s tail is referenced in raŋga (sacred objects used in ceremony). Barayuwa’s mother and her brother made him responsible for looking after this powerful story and passing it down to future generations of Munyuku.
This painting was a finalist in the 2017 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.
– Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre
Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
89 3/8 x 25 3/16
247 x 80
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia.
The 2017-19 Kluge-Ruhe Maḏayin Commission.
Purchased with funds provided by James G. and Marcy Harris, 2018, 2018.0006.001
About The Artist(s)
Barayuwa Munuŋgurr is the grandson of Woŋgu Munuŋgurr and Djimbaryun Ŋurruwutthun, giving him authority to paint both Djapu’ and Munyuku designs. In recent years, he has gained acclaim for his dense paintings of the Munyuku saltwater estate of Yarrinya. His 2015 wall drawing Manbuyŋa was acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. In 2019 he traveled to the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection to work on Maḏayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala.
Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Western Australia
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory