Wayawu, 2019


  • 120cm x 60cm
  • 2019
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • Catalog No: 1077-19-396
  • This miny'tji (sacred clan design) is Mangalili freshwater called Wayawu. Also included in this design are Noykal the Kingfish, rotting wood ranga (sacred object) under the water and the sacred yoku (corms of the water lily) representing the yothu (children) of the Mangalili fed on by the Bilthu (Rifle fish). Noykal leaves the saltwater and enters into the freshwater to breed.

    It is the journey of this fish (up freshwater rivers to breed) that created important ties with the relative clans. Noykal's travelling included a path from Dhonydji to the Wayawu River, passed through Dhalinbuy, a Wangurri homeland. At Wayawuwuy, Noykal changed into the hollow log Milkamirri. The sacred design represents the Yoku or lily corm eaten by Noykal whilst at the Wayawu River. He swims up stream towards the sacred rock Dhukurru from where ancestors once stood to spear the big fish.

    Noykal people dance, with their spear throwers becoming the tail and they often hold the sacred dilly bag in their mouth. The concept of lily bulbs in dillybags has an echo in Mangalili children in the womb. Thus the Wayawu is the freshwater source of Mangalili sounds and an analogy for the Milky Way which is also seen as the reservoir of Mangalili souls from which children spring to select their parents.

    This painting depicts in sacred abstraction the corms still attached to the plant, being washed from the lily beds by the flooding Wayawu and represents the Mangalili essence (of Noykal) in this water. The main stream of Wayawu is often painted running though the centre of a painting.

  • Painting on canvas
  • Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts