Bamboo Dreaming Stories

Learn about the stories and artists behind our Bamboo Dreaming Range. 

Janganpa Jukurrpa  (Brush Tail Possum Dreaming) – Mawurrji

Artist: Glen Jampijinpa Martin

Janganpa Jukurrpa (common brush tail possum [Trichosurus vulpecula] Dreaming) travels allover Warlpiri country ‘Janganpa’ are nocturnal animals that often nest in the hollows of white gum trees (‘wapunungka’0. This story comes from a big hill called Mawurrji, west of Yuendumu and north of Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs).

A group of ‘jangapanpa’ anscestors resided there. Every night they would go out in search of food. Their hunting trips took them to to Wirliki and Wanapirdi, where they found ‘pamapardu’ (flying ants). They journeyed on to Ngarlkirdipini looking for water. A Nampijinpa woman was living at Mawurrji with her two daughters. She gave her daughters in marriage to a Jupurrurla ‘janganpa’ but later decided to run away with them. He tracked them to Mawurrrji where he killed them with a stone axe. Their bodies are now rocks at this place.

Warlpiri people perform a young man’s initiation ceremony, which involves the Janganpa Jukurrpa. The Janganpa Jukurrpa belongs to Jakamarra/Jupurrrurla men and Nakamarra/Napurrurla women. In Walpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent this Jukurrpa. ‘Janganpa’ tracks are often represented as ‘E’ shaped figures and concentric circles are used to depict the trees in which the ‘janganpa’ live, and also the sites of Mawurrji.

Copyright of all artworks and text remains with the artists and Aboriginal owners and is administered on their behalf by Warlurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation.

Watiya-warnu Jukurrpa (Seed Dreaming)

Artist: Marshall Jangala Robertson

This painting tells the story of a Jangala ‘watiya-warnu’ (Acacia tenuissima) ancestor who travelled south from a small hill called Ngurlupurranyangu to Yamunturrngu (Mount Liebig). As he travelled he picked the ‘watiya-warnu’ seeds and placed them in ‘parrajas’ (food carriers), one of which he carried on his head.

Watiya-warnu is a seed bearing tree that grows in open spinifex or mulga country. When people returned to their camp after collecting the seeds they would make large windbreaks for shelter and winnow the seed in the late afternoon. Immature ‘watiya-warnu’ seed is ground into a paste and can be used to treat upset stomachs. The associated ‘watiya-warnu’ ceremony involves the preparation of a large ground painting.

This Jukurrpa belongs to Nampijinpa/Nangala women and Jampijinpa/Jangala men. In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa, particular sites and other elements. In paintings of this Dreaming ‘U’ shapes are often depicting women collecting the ‘watiya-warnu’ seeds. Oval shapes represent the ‘parrajas’ where they carry the seeds and strait lines beside them frequently portrait digging sticks.

Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming – Mikanji)

Artist: Clarise Nampijinpa Poulsen

The country associated with this ‘ngapa Jukurrpa’ (water dreaming) is Mikanji, a watercourse west of Yuendumu that is usually dry. There are ‘mulju’ (soakages) in this creek bed. The ‘kirda’ (owners0 of this Dreaming site are Nangala/Nampijinpa women and Jangala/Jampinjinpa men. Mikanji is an important water Dreaming site and features in at least three different Water Dreaming tracks.

In one story, the water Dreaming travelled from Puyurru, northwest of Yuendumu, to a ‘mulju’ (soakage) in the Mikanji creek. It unleashed a huge storm there. Two old blind women of the Nampijinpa skin group were sitting by the site of the soakages. As the two women strained their eyes to to see the sky, tears formed in their eyes, creating the rain. Their spirits can be seen a Mikanji in the form of two ‘npapiri’ (river red gums) growing near the soakage.

In contemporary Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography is used to represent the ‘Jukurrpa’ (Dreaming) associated sites, and other elements. In many paintings of this Dreaming, short dashes are often used to represent ‘mangkurdu’ (cumulus & stratocumulus clouds) and longer, flowing lines represent ‘ngawarra’ (flood waters). Small circles are used to depict ‘muliju’ (soakages) and river beds.

Yirrkala Dreaming (East Arnhem Land)

Artist: Ben Jungarrayi Vincent (Skin Name Gungarongone)

Ben has painted a story deriving from his mother’s Jukurrpa, Dreaming in reference to the Duhwa Clan from Yirrkala, East Arnhem Land.

“Everything in the Yolnu world view is made up of two moieties. One is Yirrtja and the other is Dhuwa. Dhuwa and Yirrtja make up our world view. They are two halves of our holistic world view and fit together perfectly. Everything in Dhuwa and Yirrtja is connected. Dhuwa and Yirrtja people intermarry and everything in the land is either Dhuwa and Yirrtja.”

Pamapardu Jukurrpa (Flying Ant Dreaming – Warntungurru)

Artist: Alistair Jangala Turner

This painting depicts the Pamapardu Jukurrpa (Flying Ant Dreaming) from Wapurtali, west of Yuendumu. ‘Pamapardu’ is the Warlpiri name for the flying ants or termites that build the large anthills found throughout Warlpiri country. This country belongs to Nakamarra/Napurrla women and Jakamarra/Jupurrla men. ‘Pamapardu’ are flying ants and they build earth mounds  that are common in the Tanami area. When heavy rains come in summer, the ‘mingkirri’ got flooded out, so the ‘pamapardu’ grow wings and fly off to make new homes, following their queens to dry mounds or to build a new one. When they have found their new home, they drop their wings. In this stage they can be collected, lightly cooked in coals and eaten. As they fall to the ground, women collect them to eat because they are nice and sweet. In contemporary Warpiri painings, traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrp, particularly sites and other elements. When this Jukurrpa story is painted, concentric circles are used to represent the ‘mingkirri’ and the rockholes involved in the story, including the central one at Warpurtali (Mt Singleton). Dashes are often depicted around the circles to represent the pamapardu’.

The Wanakiji Jukurrpa (Bush Tomato Dreaming)

Artist: Juliette Nakamarra Morris

The Wanakiji Jukurrpa (bush tomato [Solanum chippendalei] Dreaming) travels through Yaturlu (near Mt Theo, north of Yuendumu). ‘Wanakiji’ grows in open spinifex country and is a small, prickly plant with purple flowers that bears fleshy fruit with many small black seeds. After collecting the fruit the seeds are removed with a small wooden spoon called ‘kajalarra’. The fruit can then be eaten raw of threaded on to skewers and then cooked over a fire.

In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used the present the Jukurrpa, particularly sites and other elements. The Wanakiji Jukurrpa belongs to Napanangka/Napangardi women and Japanangka/Japangardi men.

Mina Mina Jukurrpa (Mina Mina Dreaming) – Ngalyipi

Artist: Kristy Anne Napanangka Brown

This Dreaming comes form Mina Mina, a very important women’s Dreaming site far to the west of Yundumu, near Lake Mackay and the WA border. The ‘kirda’ (owners) of this Dreaming are the Japangardi/Japanangka men and the Napanangka/Napangardi women.

In the Dreamtime anscentral women danced at the Mina Mina and ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks) rose up out of the ground. The women collected the digging sticks and then travelled to the east, digging, dancing and creating many places as they went.

In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used the present the Jukurrpa, particularly sites and other elements. In many paintings of this Jukurrpa, sinuous lines are used to represent the ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine). Concentric circles are often used to represent the ‘jintiparnta’ (desert truffles) that the women have collected. White straight lines can be used to depict the ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks).

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