Indigenous Australians and Water Spirit Essay example

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The artwork Yawkyawk was painted by Indigenous artist Jimmy Njiminjuma. Jimmy Njiminjuma was born in the Arnhem region. Jimmy Njiminjuma was born in 1947 and unfortunately died in 2004. The place of origin is Mumeka, Central Arnhem land, Northern territory, Australia. This painting was finished in 2000. The painting is a bark painting and the materials used for the painting were natural pigments painted on flattened eucalyptus bark. The techniques used were cross hatching, bark flattening, passing down the techniques and knowledge of Aboriginal painting and geometric design. The size of the painting is 157 x 63 cm, which is considered irregular.

The bark painting Yawkyawk is a picture of a girl who has a fishtail. The background is brown, there are ochre colours in lines and in cross-hatching. The figure stands out from the land and background and is painted white. The girl represents a water spirit. The connection with the Dreaming is that it shows beliefs of the Kuninjku people. This is because she appears to be a fish and water spirit, and the Kuninjku people believe that landscape forms were made from ancestors who weren’t human. These ancestors are believed by the Kuninjku people to still exist today in the same form. The girl’s long, flowing hair represents the flowing rivers and streams. The hair also represents the flow of algae that is found in the local water and streams. The girl is painted in front of a sacred land of Milmingkan. A water hole is represented by the cross-hatching on the left. The water hole is important to Indigenous Australians because water brings life and supplies nutrients to the people and the land.

The Dreaming has been described as something like a religion. It is values, morals and stories for the Indigenous people. The Dreaming is how the Ancestral beings created life and natural landmarks/monuments. In the Dreamtime stories, the Ancestral beings would come to the Earth in human form and then create animals, plant life and other landforms. Stories can be told through paintings and dance through generations. Aboriginal have totems that represent them and their Ancestors. Different Indigenous groups have totems which were passed down from the Ancestral beings eg. snakes, kangaroos, wombats. The water spirit in the painting represents how important and special water is to them. The Dreaming are stories about the land and how it developed through the ancestral spirit. Yawkyawk comes from the Aboriginal language Kunwinjku and means ‘young woman spirit being’. The Dreaming is significant to Aboriginal people because it is a way of life and gives understanding of the stories. The paintings give an understanding of the Dreamtime stories. To Indigenous Australians, the land is not something that is seen as a source of food or shelter, it is seen as something that is sacred and has great value.

The Yawkyawk is a new Indigenous style of painting representing a water spirit similar to a mermaid in western culture. The land is behind the figure and it is an x-ray painting. The figure takes up all of the space on the canvas. The figure is taking up most of the space because the water spirit is trying to bring water to the land. From my point of view, there may have been a drought and the water spirit is trying to bring water to the land, or it is a painting of the water spirit creating a flood. The face is a white face with red eyes, and its showing all of its teeth. The face is shown as frightening to show power. It’s shown a powerful spirit.

The Yawkyawk painting by Jimmy Njiminjuma is a great example of Indigenous art and shows a connection to the Dreamtime. This is…