Stock Works 9

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50 AM 9706/13
George Milpurrurru Magpie Geese #3/99 1994
Screenprint on Magnani paper Paper
810 x 1210mm

George Millpurrurru's people, the Ganalalbingu or Magpie Goose people are one of the largest groups in central Arnhem Land. Their land, the Arafura Swamp is home to large colonies of water birds including flocks of Gumamg, the Magpie Goose. The name of Milpurrurru's clan, the Gurrumba Gurrumba literally means, 'a flock of geese'. "Along time ago in the Dreaming the Geese lived at Gungimilawuy (near Balinga). They left here taking with them the marawurr, a feathered string (representing lily roots) used in ceremonies. They took the lily roots and went away to Barranyganyunmurr and Djilibunymurr. After that they went to dance at a place called Burgumara (in Mildjingi land, near Mangbirri outstation) where thay performed the Gumang dance. They cut a piece of string called marawurr and left it there. It lies across the swamp at Burgumara, stretching from the south side of the swamp to the north. You can drive a car across it when the swamps on both sides are still wet. That string has now become a piece of land lying across the swamp and is now called Marawurr ga Ngorra (in the Gupapuyngu language). Gumang went to Djimidji, on Milingimbi Island, where they performed the same ceremony and left the marawurr string underwater, in the sea."

(Gladys Getipulu and Brian Yambal)

In a particular part of Ganalbingu land, between the ridges to the east of the swamp, is a freshwater billabong which Milpurrurru describes as having been made by the Goose Spirit. It is thought of as a form of a goose nest, in a circular pattern.

The geese, their eggs, and their nests are sacred to Ganalbingu people - the nest is sometimes thought of as a resting place for souls. When the eggs are first collected in a season they are said to be 'hunted'. It is belived that if this is done and a ceremony is held called Gurrbumbungu (which also refers to a sound of the didjeridu), the geese will lay again. A small ceremony is held with the newest-born babies and the eggs to 'open' the season. The mothers paint themselves with white clay around the armpits and chest like the white on the geese, which is said to represent breast milk. Two men dance the Goose dance with cooked eggs, break the shells and give them to the mothers with their babies. They rub the eggs over the babies; this ensures that they and the mothers will stay healthy over the infant years. This is the ceremony of the Gurrumba Mapu (Goose Eggs).

Medium: Screenprint Edition Size: 99 Published: Oenpelli Oenpelli, NT, August, 1994 Printer: Delwin Schauble Studio: Chrystalis Melbourne, VIC Image size: 740 x 1050mm Paper size: 810 x 1210mm Paper: Magnani

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