Djurrung (Sacred bones)

This artwork depicts the Djurrung (bones) inside the lorrkkon (hollow log).

“Our ancestors, when someone passed away, would put them on paperbark tower until all that was left was the bones.

Later, the men would return to that site and collect the bones. They would then fill a painted hollow log with the bones of the deceased, and perform a ceremony. The bones would be hiding inside the hollow log, keeping the passed one safe. After the lorrkkon is filled with bones, it stands up straight in the middle of camp for all to see. The women walk around the lorrkkon dancing, and singing the song that sounds like “biddarr biddarr bidda bidda biddah biddarr.

We can still see the bones from these funerals, in the rock country near Yikarrakal and Manmoyi. You can listen to the birds there singing- they speak to each other. They don’t like balanda (non-indigenous people) going there. But our people, we can call out to the birds and the ancestors to keep us safe. It is important to respect this rock country.

Some Kuninjku can speak the spirit language. That is the language that the birds and ancestors speak together.”

This print was created using the etching technique. It is a limited edition of 20 fine art prints, created in Maningrida in 2019.

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