We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Dhudi Djapu Miny'tji



M Wirrpanda


1947 – 16 Feb 2021

Language group: Dhudi-Djapu, Arnhem region

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    hollow pole; natural pigments on wood
    181.0 x 16.0 x 17.0 cm
    Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Art Collection Benefactors 2008
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Mulkun Wirrpanda/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    M Wirrpanda

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Buku-Larrngay Mulka Art Centre documentation for this work states:

    This work depicts early events during Ancestral (and present) times at Yalata close to the Dhudi Djapu clan homeland of Dhuruputjpi (about 3 hours drive south-west of Yirrkala). It is a coastal area, this Dhudi Djapu homeland, that has territory leading up a river through plains country behind the beach. The plain is tidal and during the wet seasons it is flooded by the rains and tidal surge creating brackish water. During the dry season the grass and black earth dry out. Then the fires come, during a swamp into a huge plain of cracked black earth. Fresh water springs dot the sun baked plain forming small islands of vegetation and as Rarranhdharr (the hot time) builds, the thirsty birds come to these sacred springs in their thousands. The noise of the gudurrku or dhangultji (brolgas) and gurrumatji (magpie geese) are deafening, the mud scored with their tracks and the sky dark with the flocks of wheeling birds. Fringing the floodplain is a high midden of shellfish debris which spans kilomatres and behind the natural rise is a paperbark forest with a string of billabongs in it.

    In ancestral times activities of mana the shark and the Djan’kawu took [place here. The Djan’kawu – the Dhuwa moiety Creator Beings, in naming this country for the Dhudi Djapu, dug waterholes by plunging their sacred digging sticks in the ground. Fresh water sprung from these wells as did a sacred goanna, a manifestation of the Djan’kawu themselves. Story has it that on surfacing, the goanna saw the sun rise. Also on wet clays around the wells, the goanna observed the footprints of Dangultji (the Brolga).

    The design repeated throughout represents Darrangi – a freshwater plant associated with this homeland for the Dhudi Djapu and the ancestral shark. The shark is often referred to as Mana but it is not to be confused with the Djapu mana at Wunduwuy. This particular ancestral shark came to Garrinyarri (near Dhuruputjpi) from an area north in Arnhem Bay when an ancestral hunter of the Yirritja moiety speared this shark wounding him. His name is Gundunuru. Through a network of underwater passages this shark arrived at Garrinyirri, an open area of fresh water that can often be contaminated with salty water resulting from tidal surge.

    Darrangi is like a lime green very tall bulrush which has a base often covered with water. The pattern of this billabong country is drawn from this plant. This work is entirely covered with it. Small sharks are often seen swimming around the Darrangi. Their name is Burrutjunun.

Other works by M Wirrpanda