nabarlek guts and yawk yawk

June 21st, 2010  |  Published in field research, inspirations

A giant fibre work of a yawk yawk (young woman water spirit) which was made last year by daluk, the main artist being my karrang, has been accepted into the telstra awards. How to transport its huge and delicate mass to Darwin is another story altogether. It was my task to help neaten it up under instruction from karrang with the rdarda (younger sister) whose dreaming this particular yawk yawk Marrayka was hers. While we worked out under the trees as she swayed in the breeze, another scent wafted along which I was certain had to be human sewerage. The manager Anthony Murphy came out and immediately went on a hunt for the source. We discovered one of the daluk hosing out the intestines of a narbarlek (rock wallaby) in order to cook and eat it. After smelling it I decided I wouldn’t give it a go, but the duruk (dogs) were going wild and kept dragging away parts of the carcass to the anger of the daluk. Often at the art centre kunj (macropods), usually in the form of nabarlek (a small rock wallaby), would be dropped off to artists by bininj council workers who had run over them. After being gutted they were often put in the fork of this tree away from duruk, and meat would be cut off when needed, the skin being left on as a preservation barrier.

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