The Collection of William and Lucy Mora
21 July 2010

Mick Jawalji Jangala

born c.1920

natural earth pigments and synthetic binder on composition board

140.0 x 100.0 cm

inscribed verso: artist's name, title, date, Warmun Art Centre cat. WAC.739/05

$24,000 - 28,000
Sold for $28,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 15 - 21 July 2010, Melbourne

Warmun Art Centre, Turkey Creek
The Collection of William and Lucy Mora, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Mick Jawalji is the senior traditional owner of the Ban.gurr region of Western Gaji country. He has been painting since 2001. Jawalji was born at Yulumbu and raised on Tableland Station where he eventually worked as head stockman. He travelled extensively from station to station as a stockman, an experience which resulted in his extensive knowledge of his country and the history which shapes it.

This painting features the Dreamtime story of Jawurranji, the moon and Daawul, the black headed python. This story comes from the Garndiwal part of Gija country around Lansdowne station. Darreninjiwa is the Gija name of Godford Gorge on the Leopold River. This is where the moon called out to the promised wives. Mawunay(in) is the big waterhole at the bottom of the gorge, where all the promised wives were gathered. Dawyan Dawyan is what the moon said when the people asked him which woman he wanted as a wife. It means roughly 'this one, this one' and is not proper Gija.

Mick Jawalji tells the story in Gija below. An English translation and explanatory notes are included.

Mawunay girliwirrin jarrag wanamaynde Jawurranji.
At Mawunay, on top (of the gorge) the moon talked.

Jarrag wanamayndebirri.
He talked to them.

The moon talked/called out to the group of promise wives who were in the waterhole below. They were women of Nyawana skin, the right skin for the moon to marry.

Yirrga wanamaynde nguyu damburrugarl.
He wanted her, his mother-in-law.

Jawurranji, the moon wanted to marry Daawul, the black headed python. In the Dreamtime she was a really pretty woman. But she was of Nambin skin, which means she was the moon's mother-in-law. Contact between a man and his mother-in-law is strictly forbidden.

Ngulnga nyaniyan jinthe.
He wanted her as his wife.

“Gawurra berra nyumburrajbe ngirri” wanamayde Jawurranji
“What's wrong? They should send her to me.” The moon said.

Nguwan jirrawgngarri nyimbe wajaningi.
She never got close to that man.

Nirr bawurrubiny deg nyanaman jinthe.
He was looking at her from a long way away.

Nyawana rurdgananyel nungu nguwan warda nyimbiji.
He didn't like Nyawana, his promise wife.

The moon broke the law, by rejecting the Nyawana women (his suitable marriage partners) and desiring the Nambin woman, who is his mother-in-law.

“Yangurra ngelelma.”
“Which one do you want?”

The boss of the women asked the moon which woman he wanted to take as his wife. The moon rejects each one, so the boss asks:

“Ngelelma barra berranininingi.”
“All right, which one?”

The moon replies pointing to Daawul:

“Dawyan Dawyan”
This one, this one.

Because Daawul, the black headed python is the mother-in-law of Jawurranji, the moon, he can't say her name, so he says Dawyan Dawyan instead.

“Jigalem berraningi Damburrugarl!”
“That's no good, she's your mother-in-law!”

“Pwoo!” wanamay. “Pwoo! Ngayen muwan brab brab ngiliyanda nanggay barren wanema.”
“Pwoo!” he said “Pwoo! Only I will come out, you mob will die.”

Jawurranji went away to the east in disgust. He changed into the moon. Daawul changed into the black headed python. He made the law that when people die, they die for good. The moon however dies and comes out. The moon dies when the nights are dark and then he comes back to life when we see the new moon in the western sky.

Ngarr niniyin nguyu Daawul damburrugarl
He didn't look at the black headed python, his mother-in-law anymore.