Australia 1927 – 1999
[Dhamala Story (No.BP1546)] 1994 Description: fragmented image depicting cracked mud- mosaic of white and yellow ochre with central clack circle.
Place made: Yathalamarra, central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, bark paintings, natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
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