Yankirri Jukurrpa (Emu Dreaming) Ngarlikirlangu
Artist: Sabrina Nungarrayi Gibson
About this artwork
Original ArtThis painting depicts a ‘yankirri Jukurrpa’ (emu Dreaming) from a place called Ngarlikurlangu,
approximately 50kms north of Yuendumu. The ‘kirda’ (owners) of this Dreaming are
Nangala/Nampijinpa women and Jangala/Jampijinpa men.
This Jukurrpa tells the story of a ‘yankirri’ (emu) and a ‘wardilyka’ (bush turkey). ‘Yankirri’ lived at a
soakage to the west called Warnirripanu (or Walangkamirirri), while ‘wardilyka’ lived at a soakage to
the east called Parirri. The emu and bush turkey used to go around the country picking ‘yakajirri’
(bush raisins) and mashing them into ‘kapurdu’ (fruit balls) to save in their nests for later. However,
they were jealous of each other; the emu thought that the bush turkey was picking the best and
juiciest ‘yakajirri’ and was leaving him with only the sour ‘yakajirri’.
The emu went to the bush turkey’s nest to the east while the bush turkey was out hunting and
smashed up the ‘kapurdu’ that the bush turkey had saved there. When the bush turkey returned, he
found his smashed ‘yakajirri’ balls and realized that the emu had destroyed them. He went to the
west to confront the emu and when he found him, they got into a big fight. The bush turkey
eventually flew away to the north, leaving behind the smashed ‘yakajirri’ balls.
This practice of making ‘kapurdu’ (fruit balls) is a traditional Warlpiri method of storing ‘yakajirri’; in
the old days, people used to dry the ‘yakajirri’, grind them up with a rock in a coolamon, mix them
with water and form balls from them, and cover the ‘kapurdu’ with red ochre so they would keep.
Today at Ngarlikirlangu we can see round, red rocks which are the ‘kapurdu’ that the emu smashed
up. There is also a dance for this ‘yankirri’ (emu) Jukurrpa that is performed during men’s’ initiation
ceremonies. Several other Jukurrpa are also located at Ngarlikirlangu, including ‘wardilyka Jukurrpa’
(bush turkey Dreaming), ‘yardijiinypa Jukurrpa’ (meat ant Dreaming), and ‘pirntina Jukurrpa’ (woman
or Ramsay’s python Dreaming). Lots of ‘yakajirri’ grow around the Ngarlikirlangu area today.
In contemporary Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography can be used to represent the Jukurrpa,
associated sites, and other elements. ‘Yankirri’ are usually represented by arrow-like shapes
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