Mick England

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14 AM 14953/18
Mick England Jin-Merdawa 2018
Ochre on wood
125 x 50 x 50mm

Jin-merdawa, meaning 'young girl', is the Gun-nartpa name for mermaids. The Gun-nartpa word jin-gubardabiya is also used to describe mermaids (and it is the Pandanus Mat spirit).

Mermaids are very similar to human girls and women but they are female spirits with supernatural powers and some of the characteristics of fish. They can swim underwater and they make the water bubble as they swim below the surface. But they can also move and live on land. Many mermaids are clan spirits and they live in clan waterholes. They also live in billabongs and creeks.

Jin-merdawa are believed to swim up-river from the sea - from saltwater to freshwater, like several species of fish, including rajarra, barramundi. When the mermaids get to freshwater country, they stay in the billabongs and get accustomed to the freshwater.

There are sightings of jin-merdawa from time to time and people talk about their elders from the recent past interacting with mermaids. They live in family groups and can marry men but they live in the water.

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