Mina Mina is an extremely important ceremonial site for the Napangardi and Napanangka women that is located approximately 600kms west of Yeundumu, just east of Lake Mackay and the Western Australia border. The area has a ‘marluri’ (salt Lake or claypan) that is usually dry, without water.
There are also a large number of ‘mulju’ (soakages), sandhills, and a large stand of ‘kurrkara’ (desert oaks). The Mina Mina Jukurrpa is an important source of Warlpiri ritual knowledge and social organization, particularly relating to the different roles performed by men and women.The ‘kirda’ (owners) of this country are Napangardi/Napanangka women and Japangardi/Japanangka men, who can depict portions of the Mina Mina Jukurrpa in their paintings. There are several different components of the Mina Mina Jukurrpa; artists usually choose to depict one aspect.
These can include ‘karnta’ (women), ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks), ‘majardi’ (hairstring skirts/tassles), ‘ngalyipi’ (snakevine), ‘jintiparnta’ (desert truffle) and ‘kurrkara’ (desert oak).
The Mina Mina Jukurrpa tells the story of a group of ancestral ‘karnta’ (women) who traveled from west to east. In the Dreamtime, these ancestral women danced at Mina Mina and ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks) rose out of the ground. They collected these digging sticks and started travelling to the east.
They carried their digging sticks over their shoulders and they were adorned with ‘majardi’ (hairstring belts), white feathers and necklaces made from ‘yirirnti’ (bean tree) seeds. They continuously anointed themselves with ‘minyira’ (shiny fat) to increase their ritual powers as they went along. As the women travelled, they were followed by a ‘yinkardakurdaku’ (spotted nightjar) from the Jakamarra subsection. The bird would call out and then hide in the bushes behind them as they travelled.
When the women danced at the Mina Mina, they created a large dus could that swept up the ‘walyankama’ snake ancestors). The ‘walyankarna’ had previously transformed themselves from witchetty grubs into snakes at Kunajarrayi (Mount Nicker, 200km southwest of Yuendumu), and they had stopped at Mina Mina to watch the women dance. This dust cloud blew the ‘walyankarna’ further north to Yaturluyaturlu (near the Granites gold mine0> In this way, the ‘karnta Jukurrpa’ (women’s Dreaming) and ‘ngarlkirdi Jukurrpa’ (witchetty grub Dreaming) intersect. This allowed ancestral women to observe the witchetty grubs and learn how to best locate and cook them, which are skills that Warlpiri women still use today.
The women went east from Mina Mina, dancing, digging for bush tucker, and creating many places as they went. As they went east, they passed through Kimayi (a stand of kurrkara desert oak). They passed through sandhill country where the ‘yarla’ (bush potato or big yam ancestors from Yumurrpa and the ‘ngarlajiyi (pencil yam or small yam) ancestors from Yumurrpa were engaged in a huge battle over women. This battle is very important Walpiri Jukurrpa narrative. The women went on to Janyiki and stopped at Wakakurrku (Male Bore), where they stuck their digging sticks in the ground. These digging sticks turned into mulga trees, which still grow at Wakakurrku today. The women then went on to Lungkardajarra (Rich Bore), where they looked back towards their country in the west and started to feel homesick for what they had left behind.
The women split up at Lungkardajarra. Some of them travelled eastwards to Yarungkanya (Mount Doreen), and kept going east. They passed through Coniston in Anmatyerre country, and then went on to Alcoota and Aileron and beyond. The other group of women travelled northwards from Lungkardajarra to Karntakurlangu. These women stopped at Karntakurlangu to dig for ‘wardapi’(sand monitor/goanna) and ‘jintiparnta’ (desert beetle) before going further north. Both groups eventually got so homesick for their desert oak country in the west that they went all the way back to Mina Mina, where they stayed for good.
This Jukurrpa contains important information about the different roles that men and women play in Warlpiri culture, particularly in the context of ritual performance. It alludes to an earlier time in which their ritual and social roles were reversed, in which women controlled the sacred objects and weapons that are now exclusively ‘owned’ by men. In contemporary Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography can be used to represent the Jukurrpa, sites, and other elements. In paintings of the Mina Mina Jukurrpa, sinous lines are often used to represent ‘ngalyipi’ (snakevine). Circles and roundels can represent the ‘jintiparnta’ (desert truggle) that women collected as they travelled, and straight lines are used to represent the ‘karlangu(digging sticks). ‘Majardi’ (hairstring skirts) are represented by the wavy lines suspended from a single curved line.
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