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Andrea Nungurrayi Martin

Cat and Possum Dreaming

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Description:


Cat and Possum Dreaming

Andrea Nungurrayi Martin,1994

Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 30”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collections: Australia National Gallery, Musee des Art Africains et Oceaniens, Paris 


 

Andrea Martin has been of the real stars of women's painting at Yuendumu. Most painting communities tend to be dominated by a group of senior men and women who were raised in a traditional manner "out bush" during the period before settled life began. The arrival of Martin and other younger, highly accomplished painters, proves that traditional knowledge is still being passed down through the generations which in some measure can be attributed to the success of the contemporary painting movement, which has been a bulwark of cultural continuity. 

 


 

This painting depicts the journey to and preparation for an initiation ceremony by the Native Cat people who are represented as the red "U" shapes. They started out at Kings Canyon, the concentric circles shown at the bottom of the canvas, and traveled north to Warrunungu where they made spears. One of the Cat Men, a Japaljarri, returned to Kings Canyon to collect the "curse Bag" containing the sacred ritual objects needed for the continuation of the journey northwards. When they reached Yamirringi they rested and held the initiation ceremony. 

 


 

At the site of the large red river gum tree the Cat Men met the Possum Men represented as the black "U" shapes and a huge melee erupted, with each side hurling spears at the other. With a boomerang the cat struck the possum which caused his tail to be so long that it drags on the ground today. 

 


 

Like many Aboriginal stories of the Dreamtime this one has multiple layers and subtexts. This story shows how the Cat and Possum came to be as they are today and why they are enemies. It also tells of the ritual secrecy and taboo related to male initiation.  

 


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