New Works


23-1170 – Kumpaya Girgirba


1 in stock

Kumpaya Girgirba

61 x 91 cm: acrylic on canvas
Year: 2023


“In pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) time there were giant jarntu (dogs) walking around Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33). Like I can see you, you can see me, real life those jarntu showed themselves. Those jarntu would go under ground. Under the parna (ground, earth). There was a male and female dog. The wanti (woman, girl) jarntu was juri (beautiful, good) one. The male jarntu wanted to be nyupa- nyupa (partners). The wanti jarntu say, no, paki (nothing). The male jarntu was young and claimed that female jarntu.”

– Kumpaya Girgirba as translated by Ignatius Taylor

Kinyu (Canning Stock Route Well 35) is a small yinta (permanent spring) that was a popular camping site during the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) era. Kinyu forms part of Kumpaya’s ngurra (home Country, camp), the area which she knew intimately and travelled extensively with her family in her youth.

As alluded to in Kumpaya’s account, the site is home to the ancestral mother dingo, a generous provider and fierce protector of her Martu countrymen. Kinyu is so revered that the site and its associated ancestral being are often deferentially called jarntu (dog) in place of uttering the actual name. The site is believed to possess healing and magical powers, and children born here are said to inherit these same powers. 

During the Jukurrpa (Dreaming), Kinyu was the home for a family of dingoes; a mother, father, and their litter of pups. Originally the family had travelled to Wirlarra, following the call of the moon. At Wirlarra the moon cared for them and created a windbreak for the family to shelter. The dingoes stayed for a time at Wirlarra, scratching into the earth to create several distinctive small salt water pools which are still visited by the Martu for their healing properties. After a time, the dingoes continued travelling eastward toward the rising moon until they reached Kinyu, where they remained until all of the dingo pups had grown up. From Kinyu the family travelled further east. 

The intersection of the Canning Stock Route with Kinyu also made this a site of early contact with Europeans for many Martu then living a pujiman life in the desert. Following the route’s construction, Martu encountered Europeans and other Martu working as cattle drovers as they would travel up and down the Stock Route from water source to water source. Increasingly, pujimanpa (desert dwellers) followed the route to newly established ration depots, mission and pastoral stations. They were drawn to the route in search of food, by a sense of curiosity, or by loneliness. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, most of the desert family groups had left the desert. Eventually, these factors combined with an extreme and prolonged drought in the 1960s to prompt the few remaining pujimanpa to move in from the desert.

SKU 82258923a Category Tag

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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.