Yanjirlpiri Jukurrpa (Star Dreaming)

The country in this painting is Yanjirlpiri, a small hill to the west of Yuendumu. Yanjirlpiri has a number of ‘mulju’ (water soakages), including Pulpa and Lungkukurra, and ‘warnirri’ (rockholes), including Walka, Ngarnamirdi, Jangarnka, and Warnapirri. The name ‘yanjirlpiri’ means ‘star’ in Warlpiri.

The importance of this place cannot be overemphasized, as young boys are brought here to be initiated from as far away as Pitjantjatjara country to the south and from Lajamanu to the north. This Dreaming site is part of a set of major Dreaming tracks that begin in the north at Kurlungalinpa and travel southward through Purrpalala, Ngarlpiyi (a soakage), Pangka (a soakage), Rlipinpa (a soakage), Purlkurru (a soakage), Warnirripatu (rockholes), Yirrinpi (a soakage), Manjankurrku (a soakage), and Kunajarrayi to Yanjirlpiri. The Dreamings then move further west to Lappi Lappi and Yininti-walku-walku, near Lake Mackay by the West Australian border. These Dreamings include ‘karnta Jukurrpa’ (womens’ Dreaming), ‘ngalyipi Jukurrpa’ (snakevine Dreaming), ‘witi Jukurrpa’ (ceremonial pole Dreaming) and ‘wati-jarra Jukurrpa’ (two men Dreaming). Yanjirlpiri is also important due to its association with a major ‘janganpa Jukurrpa’ (brush-tailed possum [Trichosurus vulpecula] Dreaming). Much of the ceremonial knowledge surrounding Yanjirlpiri is protected.

This painting tells of the journey of Japaljarri and Jungarrayi men who travelled from Kurlungalinpa (near Lajamanu) to Yanjirlpiri, and then on to Lake Mackay on the West Australian border. Along the way they performed ‘kurdiji’ (initiation ceremonies) for young men. Napaljarri and Nungarrayi women also danced for the ‘kurdiji.’ In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa, particular sites and other elements. During the performance of this ceremony the men wear ‘jinjirla’ (white feather headdresses) on either side of their heads. They also wear wooden carvings of stars which are also laid out on the ground as part of the sand paintings produced for business. ‘Ngalyipi’ (snake vine), is often depicted as long curved lines and is used to tie ‘witi’ (ceremonial spears) vertically to the shins of the dancing initiates. These ‘witi’ are typically shown as long straight lines and the ‘yanjirlpiri’ (stars) are usually depicted as white circles or roundels.