Marnayak (Justice in the old days)

This painting is to show Marnayak, how justice was practised in the old days. An old man would train young men how to dodge spears – we call it Rrongnoh. When the time comes, maybe they made something wrong for ceremony, the men would cover themselves in white clay and people would say it is time for Marnayak. The men would present themselves to the families and then one or 2 men would throw spears. The men would try and dodge the spears. Sometimes they would get hit, other times they would miss. Either way the matter would be settled and everyone would feel that justice was done. This kind of justice was practised until the Mission times. When the Missionaries came to West Arnhem the old people decided not to carry on with the spearing.

Marnayak was also important for Kurnkolorr (sorry business). When someone passed away in Maningrida and their families were living in Gunbalanya it was necesaary for one person to bring the bad news to them. The messenger would tell the family what happened to the deceased person, whether they were in a fight or killed. The messenger painted themselves with white clay. The family would come outside and they would hug and say sorry to each other and cry. 

Bu bininj karrowen nawu ngadbeh ni korroko kore Manawukan (Maningrida) dja benbawong wam Dja nuye namud kabirrihni birridarrkid kore Gunbalanya wanjh nakudji bininj yika daluk kamkan kunwok kabenbengdayhke kabenmarneyime  bu bolkwarreminj kabenmarneyolyolme bu baleh birrikurduyimeng kunubewu birribuyinj dja kunubewu birridanjbom kore ngad bininj kadberre Wanjh delek kabirribarurren kabirrimalaylobme daluk bininj mankole dja kundulk dorrengh wanjh kabindibengdayhke  Kunkorlorr dja Marnayak karohrok kabirrimalaylobme kukabel du kamhdungbebme minj barnangarra dja wolewoleh larrk.