Law of the Wardaman People

6 AM 4784/07
Bill Harney Wume - Night Sky 2007
Natural ochres & pigments on acrylic coated Belgian linen
1000 x 1240mm
SOLD

This painting is called wume; wume is the sky. Mirlijun is the star. There are the stars in the middle and wolon is the grass you can see around the edges. Some stars were once humans In the country; two lots of family living together. Many animals were walking around; people were walking around like that too. Lightning people; the whole lot. Later when everything was changed in the country, they all became stars and that's what all the stars are, even the moon. He was called Jabalyl (sub- section name) when he was walking around. Later when he became the moon, he was called Gamdawa. That's the little half moon there. There is the Southern Cross, the old catfish carries it in his neck; it's the cross. The Southern Cross is called Yijang (footprints), Gumerrinjl (Emu); and Mardborronggo is right down the bottom (near the horizon), it's the creator of the land and the stars as well; You can see it right near the Southern Cross. Scorpio round the side there is called Mundarla. The Milky Way in the middle there, we call it Bonin. That's where everything is together; rainbow, emu, ground oven all together there. There's a group of children there and also a women's business dance there, this type of place is called Bardardi. People all sat around in two parties; women and men teaching the law. Nadirr is the old boss man he's laying down in the Milky Way - he's there but you can't see him now. But all those people were walking around on the ground. This Mardborronggo was split by lightning and then everyone and all the animals became stars and left the landscape. These notes are from a recording of Bill Harney paraphrased by Erika Charola, linguist of Diwurruwurru-jaru Aboriginal Corporation (Katherine Regional Aboriginal Language Centre).

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