Manharrngu people

Australia 1927 – 1999

Dhamala Story 1993 Description: "Union jack" type motif top right, catfish lower right, central vertical shaft of cross-hatching with black roundel
Place made: Yathalamarra, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, bark paintings, natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark

Dimensions: 180.0 h x 100.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1994
Accession No: NGA 94.226
Image rights: © David Malangi Daymirringu. Licensed by Viscopy
  • Dhamala is an important site on the west bank of the Glyde River where it opens out to the Arafura Sea. Here the Djang’kawu plunged their digging sticks into the earth to create Milmindjarrk, a small mangrove-fringed waterhole on the river’s edge. The ancestors hung their woven dilly bags containing the sacred law in a tree, while they searched for food, all manner of fish and shellfish.

    In Dhamala story 1993, Malangi has painted a conceptualised version of this landscape, focusing on the Djang’kawu, rather than a direct map-like representation. The emblematic design of the Djang’kawu is the Union Jack-like icon at the top left: it consists of a central waterhole and radiating lines that indicate, simultaneously, the paths travelled by the ancestors, the rays of the rising sun and the weave of the conical mat that the ancestors used in giving birth to the Dhuwa clans. As such the Djang’kawu design is synonymous with the womb and the procreative powers of women.

    At Dhamala the Djang’kawu changed their language to Manharrngu and gave the Manharrngu clan the colour black, a prominent and distinctive feature of Malangi’s paintings. In this painting the black defines waterholes, the digging sticks and the brackish waters at the mouth of the river.

    Wally Caruana

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

  • I record the story about Dhämala.

    It’s Dhämala named by Djan'kawu. Right. They start travel … two Djan'kawu, from sunrise to sunset … when they travel through the places, they name the places … give the ceremony, all the way, coming up. When they come to the other country, they change their language, change language and tribe. From there another country, change language, another tribe … once … they come to Dhämala … they start to walk around in this plain, and in this plain they named the areas.

    Then they were gathering all the shells, long-bums (mussels) anything you can name it in the mangroves, what lives in the mangrove tree, in the saltwater, in the mangrove. Then, after that, the two Djan'kawu … start to cook, organise to cooking. While they cook, then they start cook all the long-bums, anything round, any long-bums … they start to change the language.

    One … she talking Manharrngu language, another said ‘Hey, you’re talking another language … Let me help you for food, language’, and then they eat, they both talk Manharrngu language and they called themselves, ‘we are talking Manharrngu language in this country because we are Manharrngu and this Dhämala'.

    Richard Birrinbirrin, 2002

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002

  • 戴维·马兰吉·德米林谷 (David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU)
    《达玛拉故事》(Dhamala Story)
    180.0(高) x 100.0(宽) 厘米
    收录号:NGA 94.226




    Richard Birrinbirrin, 2002
    理查德·博林博林 2002年

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra