Djawida was born out in the bush on his father's country at Dialbangurr. His family
eventually moved into Oenpelli where his mother and father worked as buffalo skinners
and salters. Djawida went to school in Oenpelli and grew up in the area. Sometimes
the family visited their country and it was on those trips that Djawida became interested
in painting. He first started to paint on rock, copying existing rock paintings,
especially animals and the mimi spirits. He also left his hand and foot stencils on rock
in lots of places.
Djawida taught himself to mix ochres and paint. He eventually moved onto painting barks
and in the last few years, Archer's paper. He also makes spears and didjuridus. He paints
stories from his father's country at Djalbangurr, his mother's country at Kudjekbinj
including nawurra story, and sometimes his grandmother's country near Manmoyi.
Cat No. A3012
Size 153 x 102 cm
Natural ochres on Arches Rives paper
Ancestral Being of the Stone Country
Nawurra was the first and most powerful Ancestral Being of the Stone Country, which
lies between Oenpelli and Maningrida. He was a very tall man who had two wives, and
all three could change the shape of their faces into birds, crocodiles or serpents.
Aborigines believe that Nawurra still inhabits the Stone Country, but nowadays nobody
can see him. During his wanderings in the Dreamtime he created sacred and secret sites
and taught Aboriginal people the laws by which they were to live, and the song cycles
to be performed in ceremonies so that young men would learn about their ancient history
and religion. He also placed tabus on certain foods, and declared that the best parts
of the food were to be given to old initiated men.
Nawurra taught men how to make spears and woomeras for hunting and fish traps from
woven cane and vines, while his two wives taught Aboriginal women the art of weaving
dilly bags from pandanus leaves These dilly bags were to be used by women when out
hunting, suspending the bags from their heads so that their hands would be left free
for food gathering or to attend to their children. Nawurra admired these dilly bags so
much that he asked his women to make ceremonial ones for the men. They were to be the
same shape as the women's hunting bags, but the pandanus was to be dyed with varying
colours and have tiny parrakeet feathers of red and green interwoven through the pandanus.
In these the men could carry special totems, small weapons, and food for ceremonies.
Men's dilly bags were to be worn over their shoulders.
Like all Dreamtime Ancestral Beings, Nawurra could change his shape at will, and the
one he most assumed was that of Ngalyod, the all powerful Rainbow Serpent, who created
sacred sites and is the controller of the seasons, the Wet and the Dry. He is given great
honour in ceremonies so that he will remain happy, because if he considers that any
Aborigine is offending against tribal law or disturbs him with loud noises or cooking
smells when he is sleeping, he can bring down great floods and then swallow the victim.