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The jila men
When you go there you have to light a fire, so that jila can know you're coming.
Jukuja Dolly Snell, Fitzroy Crossing, 2007
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Kulyayi by Jewess James
Jewess James, Ngurra Artists, acrylic on canvas, 118 x 103.5 cm
They killed that jila for that water Kulyayi. They found him at his own waterhole and killed him. My people always used to see him outside the waterhole. Long time ago. We went there lately and I saw that there was hardly any water. Only little bit, enough for birds to drink. Before it was big. Water was full.
This is my mother's and grandfather's Country, Kulyayi. This is how they slept in the cold weather. They made windbreaks out of spinifex and trees, and fire in the middle in the cold season.
Wakartu Cory Surprise, Mangkaja Arts, acrylic on canvas, 119.5 x 118.6 cm
The snake that belongs to this jila cries for the people to come back to their Country. When people go back to visit, all the men dance around the jila to let the snake know they're coming.
This painting depicts one of the jila men, Wayampajarti, whose home lies west of the Canning Stock Route. The dance for this jila is sometimes performed at cultural festivals by Canning Stock Route collection co-curator Murungkurr Terry Murray.
Kurtal as Miltijaru, 1989
David Downs, Mangkaja Arts, acrylic and ochre on canvas, 183 x 121.5 cm
Kurtal is shown here as the embodiment of miltijaru, a dramatic rainstorm that roars into the desert at the beginning of the wet season. Long rolling rain clouds called kutukutu, symbolised in Kurtal's headdress, herald the approach of these storms. Kurtal also wears a jakuli (pearl shell pendant), one of the sacred objects used in rainmaking ceremonies, which he stole from other jila men across the desert.
This excerpt from the 'Kurtal wanyjurla wanyjurla' song recounts Kurtal's journey from the saltwater Country to Kaningarra:
In the north-west I saw leaping fish
sparkling in the sunlight.
Carrying the sacred object I wade through the water.
The waves carry me down to the depths.
In the north-west I saw a seagull.
The seagull was speaking.
I saw lightning flickering in the north;
I was the rain cloud.
I am Kurtal.
I bring the game and make the Country fruitful.
The wind is wild, the lightning flickers above.
Up there Kaningarra is crying, the wind roars.
I am Kaningarra, the great rock.
Look to the south, that level ground is sloping now.
Who is that coming after me?
I am a maparn [magic man] but I'm losing my
Look to the west.
See his headdress.
Holmes à Court Collection
Bush Tucker, 2007
Spider Snell, Mangkaja Arts, acrylic on canvas, 119.5 x 89.5 cm
Spider Snell is the brother of Jarinyanu David Downs and the ceremonial boss for Kurtal.
I am jila. I am one of his lightnings.
I was a good hunter when I was a kid, killing all kinds of animals. I used to cook them and chuck bones in the waterhole. I was a good kid, looking after my own self. My mother and father went hunting sometimes for two days or more. At night I would say, 'Kurtal, I'm alone, my parents haven't came back yet. Can you look after me?'
Kurtal and Kaningarra, 2007
Ngarralja Tommy May, Mangkaja Arts, acrylic on canvas, 58.5 x 89 cm
This [is a] story about Dreamtime people before Canning. Before whitefella come with a camel, Dreamtime people were there. These two blokes, Kurtal [right] and Kaningarra [left].
Before I been born, these two waterholes, they been looking after, cleaning all the time. Kurtal mob used to come down to Kaningarra mob, looking after Kaningarra. Keep it clean and sometime make it rain.
This song bring up big rain.
Jukuja Dolly Snell, Ngumpan, 2009
I am Kaningarra. Standing in my country, I look to the south.
What is this thing chasing me? I'm a maparn [magic man] but these devil dogs are frightening me. I hit them with my powers.
Streaks of lightning are flashing in the distance. A storm is gathering all around. Lightning is flashing on top of the hills like fire, I hide underground. A waterhole forms in the earth.
A storm cloud is raining in the distance but it is coming closer. Lightning strikes on the hill. Another waterhole is formed from the sky.
The storm is approaching from the north-west, sprinkling lightly like mist. It rains a little bit.
In the north, a Jangala man looks out, standing on one leg near the sea. He is painted up, carrying a spear and a boomerang. He drinks the rainwater and dances back and forth, bringing the song from the north.