Mumuṯthun by Wanyubi Marika

Mumuṯthun by Wanyubi Marika.jpg
Mumuṯthun by Wanyubi Marika.jpg

Mumuṯthun by Wanyubi Marika


Title: Mumuṯthun

Artist: Wanyubi Marika

Artwork Size: 49 x 33cm (image), :68 x 50cm (Hahnemühle paper)

Artwork medium: Etching

Born: 1967

Clan: Rirratjiŋu

Moiety: Dhuwa

Homeland: Muwalaŋgal Pt Bradshaw

Art Centre: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre

Printed: Yirrkala Print Space and Sean Richard Smith


The protected bay of saltwater named on maps below Cape Arnhem as Port Bradshaw is separated from the open sea (Gulf of Carpentaria) by open bush land on sand behind the highest dunes in the Territory, that face the ‘sunrise’ side (East).

Yalaŋbara is the Rirratjiŋu clan country on the sunrise side and where the Dhuwa Moiety creator beings; the Djaŋ’kawu first arrived from their point of departure of the mythical island of the dead, Buralku. The Djaŋ’kawu, two sisters with their brother, ascended the dunes from the beach and on the other side performed first ritual proclaiming land there for the Rirratjiŋu. Not far from the shore of Port Bradshaw the Djaŋ’kawu embarked on what was to become the epic creation mythology for the Dhuwa clans.

As they paddled they sang their journey. As they approached the mainland and as the sun was just about to rise they sang the species in the water touched by star and moonlight adjacent to Yalaŋbara in the North East known as Mumuṯthun. Freshwater from wells created by the Djaŋ’kawu mixes with salt.

The miny’tji (sacred clan design) represents this sea country and having been subject to the Djaŋ’kawu’s powers is imbued with the same.

This is the artist’s representation of the water immediately after the sister’s paddles have been withdrawn from it. It is a conception which exists within the songs and employs all of the elements of the sacred design and refers to the many levels of meaning within the law but is the artists own personal act of reverence towards his birthright.

From Yalangbara the Djang'kawu set out on their epic journey of eastern Arnhem Land, travelling on what they sanctified as Dhuwa Land, singing the country and spliting it up into clan estates, designating sacred law (Madayin) song, dance, totem, language to each as they went. Thus the one side of the duality that governs the Yolngu of Arnhem Land - the two-moiety system of the Dhuwa and the Yirritja, emanated from Yalangbara.

Today on the sandy beach at Yalangbara freshwater is found. By digging at the right location the freshwater seeps through the sand pooling in the hole dug. Rirratjingu song cycles celebrate the Djang’kawu creating this well by plunging the sacred Mawalan (digging stick) into this area as they strode up the beach with their possessions to the sand dunes further up. This well with water of sacred and special qualities called Milngurr.

Printed Sean Smith, The Ownership Project, June 2017.

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