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Djambawa Marawili – Memorial Pole, Larrakitj


Artist: Djambawa Marawili AM
Born: 1953
Clan: Yithuwa Madarrpa
Moiety: Dhuwa
Homeland: Baniyala/Yilpara
Code: 4499T

Memorial Pole size: 272cm high
Medium: Earth pigments on Stringybark hollow pole

This work describes the course of a river system, and also the Yothu Yindi mother/child relationship between the Yirritja moiety clans of the Madarrpa and the Mangalili and the Dhuwa moiety clan, the Dhudi-Djapu. It is in fact a collaboration between Djambawa and his wife and shows their two clans of opposite moieties. This freshwater runs down the Wayawu River where the Mangalili rock stands, past and through Dhalwanu, Munyuku, Djapu clan country before meeting the sacred water of the Dhudi-Djapu clan at the Dhurupurjpi. Here the water of the Mangalili clan come from the rock, slips under the waters of the Dhuruputjpi past the shark, to the surface again to empty into the Blue Mud Bay at what is marked on the map as Grindall Bay. The wavy design is Mangalili and it is surrounded by the Madarrpa design of the mangroves. Mana the ancestral shark for several of the Dhuwa clans ended its epic journey in the waters of the Dhuruputjpi. Here at Dhukal’s homeland the waters of the Wayawu bank up into huge billabongs before flooding the plains of Yalata during the wet or slipping underground to gurgle up from sacred wells during the dry. These were dug by the Djankawu sisters on the massive plain just out of Dhuruputjpi – still on Dhudi Djapu land. However the lower panel of the Dhuwa represents by way of Dhudi Djapu miny’tji the floodplains of Yalata and the grasses that grow ther. A safe and sacred haven for the shark and its own children. There the shark presides over a secret entrance to his domain of the same profound nature as the Mangalili site of Dhukurru. The painting depicts Mana, witness to the Mangalili water slide under him, connecting two moieties; Yothu-Yindi; Mother and Child; Yirritja and Dhuwa; Mangalili and Dhudi Djupa; Galuma and Dhukal. Again the miny’tji for this part of the river is based on this bullrushy-type waterplant and this is what is depicted in the representational panel. Again until very recently non-Aboriginal knowledge excluded the possibility of a shark living in freshwater at this place. Recently Western science has found a genus of ‘speartooth’ shark whose lifecycles occur completely within some Top End Rivers.

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