This painting depicts some of the ‘jarntu’ or ‘maliki’ (dogs) that live in Yuendumu. Families in Yuendumu tend to own many dogs. They are good ‘marlpa’ (company). Many people think of their dogs as ‘warlalja’ (family). Dogs in Yuendumu like to follow their owners around whenever they can.
Some people use their dogs to help them hunt ‘marlu’ (kangaroo) and ‘wardapi’ (goanna), among other animals. People also have dogs to protect themselves from intruders, monsters, and other things that might try to hurt them and their family. Many monsters are invisible to ‘yapa’ (Aboriginal people). However, dogs are able to see and smell them. Dogs will warn ‘yapa’ about them or steer them away from the monsters, and thereby keep them safe.
‘Jarntu’ or ‘maliki’ also feature in a number of ‘Jukurrpa’ (Dreaming) stories. One ‘maliki Jukurrpa’ (dog Dreaming) comes from a site called Pindara, southwest of Yuendumu. Another dog Dreaming story, ‘malikijarra Jukurrpa’ (two dogs Dreaming), comes from country adjacent to Warlarla (Rabbit Flat). This site is part of a long Dreaming track that stretches from Yarrajalpa in the extreme west of Warlpiri country to Warlaku (Ali Curung) in the east. This Dreaming story describes proper conduct in families and marriages.