1996, 35 Minutes
Purification Ceremony - Caledon Bay 1971
The Djapu clan has always had strong links with Caledon Bay, some 70 kilometres south of Yirrkala. In 1971 they gathered here to plan the building of a major homeland centre.
A purification ceremony is held for a woman who has been injured at Yirrkala. After preliminary singing, the injured woman sits in a depression in the sand. This represents her clan's sacred well. The singing relates to the ancestral spirit beings associated with her country. This is a short film record, with fine singing by old Djapu clan leaders.
From A Long Time Ago - Hollow Log Painting
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Macassan traders visited the north coast of Australia. They came to collect and process trepang, or sea cucumber, which they traded mainly to China. The Yolngu accepted the presence of these outsiders and in turn traded with them for metal tools, pipes and tobacco. The Macassan story became part of Yolngu mythology. The sailing away of the Macassan boats at the end of the trepang season has now become a symbol for the departing spirit after death.
In 1974, Mungurrawuy Yunupingu and other clan leaders painted a traditional hollow log coffin at Yirrkala. The log represents a Macassan boat, a boat for the spirits of the dead. In this film, Mungurrawuy sings over the log as the painting is completed. His songs are subtly multi-layered in their meanings. They refer to the making of a great Macassan boat, to the painting of the log with fine pictures, and maybe to the picture-making of this by the film unit. Daymbalipu Mununggurr is watching over the painting of his mother's clan log and explains the meanings. Through these paintings and songs, the importance to the Yolngu of the visits by Macassan trepangers to northeast Arnhem Land is revealed.
A Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Producer/Director/Co-writer: Ian Dunlop
Running Time: 35 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Indigenous Studies; Studies of Religion; Legal Studies - Contesting laws: Heritage, culture and land; SOSE/HSIE; Australian History - of particular relevance for NSW History Stage 5, Topic 6 'Changing Rights and Freedoms' Section A: Aboriginal Peoples - Change over Time; NSW History Stage 4 'Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Colonisation and Contact History: What has been the nature and impact of colonisation on Aboriginal, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?'; English; Performing & Visual Arts. Teachers’ notes and background material are included.