Marŋarr by Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr


Marŋarr by Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr


Title: Marŋarr

Artist: Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr

Artwork Size: 25 x 36cm (image), 39 x 53cm (image)

Artwork medium: Etching

Born: c. 1959

Clan: Daṯiwuy

Moiety: Dhuwa

Homeland: Yirrkala

Art Centre: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre

Printed: Basil Hall Editions and Sean Richard Smith


Marŋarr are the places where the Macassans camped and where they prepared the Darripa (trepang). They are usually a natural harbour with freshwater nearby. I reckon they were helped by the Yolŋu because sometimes the waters sources were Yolŋu wells which only the landowners would know. Some of the Marŋarr I know are Bawaka, Gunyuŋara, Galupa, Garrthalala, Dhanaya. Every marŋarr has a Tamarind tree that the Macassans brought with them as a food source for the spicy food which they like. They would eat it with fish and stingray. It is an introduced tree from Indonesia and the Yirritja people, especially my mother clan the Gumatj sing the dharpa (tree) whilst singing under it. I have seen this since I was a child and some of these trees are hundreds of years old. Whereas the Dhuwa sing generally of the things natural to the continent and old the Yirritja are always the ones who sing the new things- Galuku (coconut), Galiku (fabric), Djalikalika (gun), Ŋanitji (alcohol), Ŋärali (tobacco), Marthaŋa (ships), Galiwaŋ (swords) and Djambuŋ which is the name of the Tamarind. And these songs often connect to Marŋarr places. As long as I can remember when we were kids we used to gather the fruit and mix them with water and sugar to make a paste which we carried with us in a bottle. Kids still do it now. Nowadays I still use Djambaŋ in my cooking especially for seafood.

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