Burarr Djang (Water Goanna Dreaming)

Water goanna is an important being for Kunwinjku people of Duwa moiety, just as the crocodile is important for Yirridjdja moiety people. Both are key figures in the Mardayin Ceremony. Together, Duwa and Yirridjdja people perform the final sequence of the ceremony, in which large wooden replicas of the animals are brought onto the ceremonial ground. Songs are chanted about the deeds of the two ancestors who took these animals forms and dances imitate their actions.
In this painting, the artist depicts two mature and two young goannas, representing initiated men and novices. Mimi spirits with dilly bags and weapons dance on either side of them while a lone female sits in the centre, her belly beginning to swell with child – a symbol of fertility.
Songs about the goanna during the Mardayin Ceremony emphasise that if he had not urinated so heavily over the dry land and arid regions of western Arnhem Land during the Dreamtime, there would have been little chance for survival of plants, humans and other creatures.