PHILIP GUDTHAYKUDTHAY
Djerrka ga Wititj (Goannas and Olive Python)

Philip Gudthaykudthay, Djerrka ga Wititj (Goannas and Olive Python), 2016, acrylic and ochre on canvas, 120.00 x 99.50 x 2.00 cm, TCG22318
(photo: The Commercial) private collection, Sydney

This painting is part of the Wagilag Sisters Story.

The Wagilag Sisters are central to the four important ceremonies of the Dhuwa moiety; the Djungguwan, the Gunabibi, the Ngulmarrk, and the Mandaialla.

The story is primarily an account of how, in the distant past, the two Wagilag Sisters came out of the southern interior and across the countryside to the Liyagalawumirr waterhole at Mirarrmina. There the younger sister profaned the pool of Wititj (the great Olive Python) by accidently allowing her blood to fall into the waterhole. Because of this, the women (and their children) were swallowed by Wititj.

All of the other sacred snakes stood up with their heads in the clouds and talked to each other with voices like thunder. The Pythons discovered that they had different languages and ‘skins’. Wititj confessed to eating the two women; his own moiety and fell to earth making a big depression in the ground. The big wind blew across the land making the first dry season. Wititj was ordered by the snakes to vomit the women and children back up. When he did this he also vomited up all the water from the waterhole, creating the monsoonal rains.

Djarrka (goannas) feature in this painting as when the sisters travelled, this was one of the bush foods they ate.

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