This artist is daughter of Mungarrawuy Yunupiŋu whose two sons Galarrwuy and Mandawuy have pursued the struggle for land rights he spearheaded until his death.
The Djulpan story is about seven sisters who went out in their canoe called Djulpan.
During the harvest season following the Wet they go hunting and always come back with different types of food: turtles, fish and freshwater snakes, and also bush foods like yams and berries. They can be seen in the sky of a night in April. Seven stars that come out together. Known in English as the Plaiedes. The stars come in season when the food and berries come out, the stars will travel through the sky during that month until the season is over and they don’t come out until the next season. Yunupingu’s father told her about these seven sisters in a canoe, and the three Dhuwa moiety brothers who came behind them, following them (Orion’s belt). This constellation appears low in the Western sky in April and is in the shape of a canoe with a hunter standing up aiming a spear. They travel west. There are special stars in the sky which Yolngu call wishing stars. They give Yolngu bush tucker; they multiply the foods in the sea – that’s why Yolngu are happy to see them. That’s what Yunupingu’s father told her.
The Djulpan make it to their home over the Northern horizon and then cook their food. The smoke from their fires is sometimes visible. This appears to be a reference to actual visibility of such extreme events in Irian Jaya as volcanoes, dust storms and severe bushfires. Smoke or dust from such rare events is also mirrored in certain cloud formations that appear after the Sisters have left the sky. It is only then that the Yolngu of this dimension can set their customary annual fires. If fires are lit before this the Djulpan will become sad and jealous and cry. Their tears in the form of unseasonal rain will extinguish the presumptuous fires. Tears of rain known from the songs as Nyalala Gurmili.
Text courtesy of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre
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