Manmakkawarri Djang (Catfish Dreaming)

Jeremiah has painted manmakkawarri (catfish) swimming around a waterhole, represented by the black circle in the centre of the painting. There is a Catfish Dreaming here in Kunbarllanjnja (Gunbalanya). In the old days people used to go and hit the Catfish Dreaming rock with a leafy branch and ask the fish to go down to that big billabong, so people could get lots of catfish with their fish nets and fishing spears. The rock is still here, on the south side of town near the single mens’ houses. Young and old used to go down to that billabong. But people don’t do the increase ritual today. And today we don’t swim or stand in the water because there’s lots of crocodiles everywhere even out on the floodplains or even over on the other side in the creeks and swamps. We have other Dreamings here, the Leech Dreaming and Turtle Dreaming at the bottom of Nimbabbirr hill and a Long Tom Dreaming at the bottom of Injalak hill. There’s also a Magpie Goose Dreaming on top of Arrkuluk hill. And the main one here is a Dog Dreaming, Adjumarllarl.

The fine crosshatching technique Jeremiah has used in this painting is called rarrk. Manyilk, a brush made from sedge grass whittled to a single fibre, is used to paint the rarrk. This is a technique that has been used by Kunwinjku artists for thousands of years in the rock art of Injalak hill and all throughout western Arnhem Land.

Nahni Manmakkawarri Djang kahdjangdi kondah kore Kunbarllanjnja (Gunbalanya). Bu korroko nawu dabborrabbolk birridjareni nawu djenj manmakkawarri wanjh birrirey kore kahwardeyo makka wanjh manmakkawarri djenj djang, kore Walem Arrkkuluk kanjdji kore yawurrinj singlemen house kahrurrkdi kaluk Koyek kumekke. Birrirey nawu dabborrabbolk birriwodbuni kunworr dja birridjawani birriyimi ngarridjare djenj kakolung kore kubokimuk manlabbarl. Wanjh birrikolungi walabi dorrengh dja djalakkiradj birridanjbuni birrimangi. Dja bolkkime larrk minj nangale kaburrbun kadjangwe nawu manmakkawarri djang. Dja bolkkime nawern nawu kinga wernmerrinj kore manlabbarlkimuk dja kore kabbal dja mankabohkabo minj nangale kadjuhme. Korroko birridjuhmi ngarridjumi wurdwurd dja morlehmorlenj dorrengh birrimangi dja birridanjbuni djalakkiradj dja bolkkime larrk.