76 x 46 cm: acrylic on canvas
“This is my Country. My little brother was born here in pujiman (traditional, desert-dwelling) times. I was a big girl, no man yet. We were walking a long way.”
– Nyanjilpayi (Ngarnjapayi) Nancy Chapman
“When I was born my spirit appeared at Jarntinti. That’s my Country, Jarntinti. I was born a pujiman in Tarl Country. I know all about it, about that water over there, about my home, our grandparent’s Country. We travelled all around as pujiman, camping and then setting off again by foot. We didn’t get tired. We just kept on going. Sometimes it would rain, so we would build a shelter, just like a tent. Inside we would light a fire. Our pujiman lifestyle was very healthy and we didn’t get sick very often. Even when it was cold we continued to walk around in good health. Living on our Country we feel fulfilled. We know how to live here because we are pujiman.
I feel deeply satisfied, really well. It’s really good. I’m working on my painting of those waterholes, I was drinking from them long ago as a pujiman. My family’s water, my grandmother’s, my grandfathers and my ancestors. I was taught from them. Our knowledge is ancient and has been passed on by our grandparents. Young people need to keep looking after it. Our home is where our ancestors walked around. They knew how to care for it. Now we are teaching the younger generation. Now they have the knowledge of the water places. We are telling them they need to keep visiting these water places that we have taken them to and shown them properly. They need to keep visiting them after we have passed away. They need to continue our legacy and look after our Country, our grandparent’s Country.
– Nyanjilpayi Nancy Chapman, as translated by Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa
This is Nyanjilpayi’s Country- her ‘ngurra’ (home Country, camp). People identify with their ngurra in terms of specific rights and responsibilities, and the possession of intimate knowledge of the physical and cultural properties of one’s Country. Painting ngurra, and in so doing sharing the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories and physical characteristics of that place, has today become an important means of cultural maintenance.
Nyanjilpayi’s ngurra encompasses the Country that she and her family walked in the pujiman era. Nyanjilpayi was born at Jarntinti, a large claypan at the southern end of Nyayartakujarra (Lake Dora) and within the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) region. She grew up, walked and hunted primarily around the Country extending across the Punmu, Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33) and Karlamilyi (Rudall River) regions. Following the death of both their parents, Nyanjilpayi and her sisters travelled alone between Punmu and Kunawarritji, occasionally meeting with other family groups. They continued to live nomadically before eventually deciding to move to Jigalong Mission along with many other relatives following an extreme and prolonged drought in the 1960s.
Portrayed in this work are features of Nyanjilpayi’s ngurra, such as the dominant permanent red tali (sandhills), warta (trees, vegetation), and the individually named water sources she and her family camped at. These include Jarntinti, Yaralalu, Januwa, Jilankujarra, Karlajarntu, Kartungu, Kularti, Kumpupajanu, Kunalimpi, Kunarra, Marnakarti, Pangkapirni, Wilunganinya, Wurur-wururna, Yilyara, and Yirrajarra. Rock holes, waterholes, soaks and springs were all extremely important sites for Martu people during the pujiman period, and are generally depicted with circular forms.
The encyclopaedic knowledge of the location, quality and seasonal availability of the hundreds of water bodies found in one’s Country sustained Martu as they travelled across their Country, hunting and gathering, visiting family, and fulfilling ceremonial obligations. They would traverse very large distances annually, visiting specific areas in the dry and wet season depending on the availability of water and the corresponding cycles of plant and animal life on which hunting and gathering bush tucker was reliant. As they travelled and hunted they would also burn areas of Country, generating a greater diversity of plant and animal life.
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Martumili Artists acknowledges the Nyiyaparli and Martu people as the Traditional Owners of the land we live and work on. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners throughout our country and our Elders; past, present and emerging.