Territory Stories

Yalangbara: art of the Djang'kawu



Yalangbara: art of the Djang'kawu


Marika, Laklak; Marika, Banduk 1954-; Malgorzewicz, Anna; Marika, Mawalan 1; Isaacs, Jennifer; Bagshaw, Geoffrey; Morphy, Howard; Stanton, John E; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory


Marika, Banduk; West, Margie


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




Yalangbara' is the first Indigenous art publication to focus upon one significant ancestral site. It has been produced on behalf of members of the Rirratjingu clan to celebrate Yalangbara (Port Bradshaw), the landing site of the Djang'kawu ancestors; the law-givers and progenitors of the people throughout north-east Arnhem Land. Their creative activities are depicted by three generations of talented Marika artists, including Mawalan 1, Mathaman, Milirrpum, Roy, Wandjuk, Banduk, Dhuwarrwarr, Mawalan 2, Jimmy Barrmula and Wanyubi Marika. The accompanying text examines aspects of Yolngu (Aboriginal) aesthetics and material culture, history, myth, land ownership and copyright to show the complex interrelationship of these themes in Yolngu life. Margie West AM holds the honorary position of Emeritus Curator of Aboriginal Art at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. She is an anthropologist with over thirty years of curatorial experience in Indigenous art. Since 1972 she has curated over forty semi-permanent and touring Aboriginal art exhibitions and has published extensively on Aboriginal art. Some of the recent publications she has edited include 'Transitions' (2000), 'Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award: Celebrating 20 years' (2004), 'ReCoil, Change and Exchange in Coiled Fibre Art' (2007), she was also co-editor with Hetti Perkins on the 'One Sun One Moon' publication (2006).


produced in partnership with Banduk Marika and other members of the Rirratjingu clan, north-east Arnhem Land; Indigenous people are respectfully advised that names and images of deceased people appear in the following pages. These have been reproduced with the consent of appropriate family members.

Table of contents

ntroduction/? Anna Malgorzewicz -- Journey of the Djang'kawu/? Mawalan 1 Marika -- The Marika family: guardians of Yalangbara, descendants of the Djang'kawu/? Jennifer Isaacs -- The physical and cultural dimensions of the Yalangbara area/? Geoffrey Bagshaw -- Yalangbara: the paintings/? Howard Morphy --Singing the land: the crayon drawings on brown paper collected by Ronald M and Catherine H Berndt/? John E. Stanton -- The sanctity of ordinary objects: material items of the Djang'kawu/? Margie West -- The counterfeit case/? Margie West -- Artist biographies




1905 - Visual Arts and Crafts; 1601 - Anthropology; Indigenous; Art; Northern Australia; Art, Aboriginal Australian; Rirratjingu (Aboriginal people)--Northern Territory--Yirrkala

Publisher name

Charles Darwin University Press (CDU Press)

Place of publication



206 pages : colour illustrations, portraits, map ; 28 cm.

File type



9780980384673; 980384672



Copyright owner

Copyright for each chapter is held by the author or authors of that chapter



Related links

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/816698 [Front cover : Yalangbara: art of the Djang'kawu]

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166 Mawalan passed away, he gave the leadership to Mathaman. He was what we call gananyak, a person who makes sacred objects, dilly bags and other sacred ceremonial items. He was a great artist, warrior and leader of the time and held a strong belief in his land of the Djangkawu Dreaming.2 Mathaman died of cancer just as the Yolngu struggle for land rights was being pursued through the courts. His funeral was witnessed by the anthropologist WEH Stanner, an expert witness in the Yirrkala land case, who was moved to comment: I was present when the old man Mathaman who had dared to sue Her Majesty and the Nabalco Company, was preparing to die. The right men painted on his chest with ochre and blood, the design that pointed itself to things sacred and mystical to his clan. The industrial and commercial world made by the Commonwealth and Nabalco was roaring all around, but if ever a man died at peace with the Dreaming, in spite of the ruin overtaking his people, it was Mathaman.3 1 Raymattja Marika and Nancy Williams, The Marika Family in Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale (eds), The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art & Culture, Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 6378. 2 Djuwalpi Marika, Interview with Margie West, Yirrkala, 21 August 2005. 3 WEH Stanner, Some Aspects of Aboriginal Religion, Charles Strong Memorial Trust Lecture, Australian and New Zealand Society for Theological Studies, 1976, p. 31.

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