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Darwirr (Yolngu name)
Flagellaria indica (Latin name)
This plant belongs to the Yirritja moiety
Cultural information about this plant:
This vine is used to make armbands. Also known as guwatjuru. The stems are split again and again until they are very thin, shaved to make them smooth and then measured against the arm of the wearer. They are then bent into a perfect circle and bound with string made from dharranggulk (kurrajong), burrumburr (Phaleria octandra) or dawu also known as manungunya (banyan). In the old days everyone wore armbands all the time. Just normal ones. In ceremonies, the armbands (especially the wäyuk with feathers attached) must be sung before they are slipped onto the wearer's arms. This is because the darwirr is like the skeleton which holds the sacred designs of the feathers that represent each clan distinctly: either Yirritja or Dhuwa.
The darwirr is used again and again for years. The string entwined around the armband is unwound and the darwirr is either widened or stretched to make it bigger, or folded in to make it smaller to fit the arm of the wearer, and the string is wound around it again. In the paintings of the plant darwirr
Mulkun shows the actual armbands, nganybak. Other names for armbands are bäku' (the bare hoop of darwirr) and djali (an armband after it has been strung and feathered).
(Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, 2017)
Botanical information about this plant:
- a perennial climbing vine, with strong bamboo-like flexible stems
- long and thin leaves, with curly tips, to 35 centimetres in length
- small white flowers with a pleasant fragrance
- globular fruit to 1 centimetre in diameter; pink to red when ripe
- strong and flexible stems; sometimes very long
- grows in monsoon vine forests and thickets and near water; occurs across northern Australia, north of Mataranka.
A botanical painting in natural pigments and ochres on eucalyptus stringy bark, depicting the native plant species 'DARWIRR'. The painting features a plant form with circluar elements in white with internal rings and crosshatching. The background is crosshatched in white, black, red-brown and yellow-ochre. The whole painting has a black border. On the reverse of the bark, the number '4599M' is handwritten in black ink, and there is a 'BUKU-LARRNGAY MULKA' adhesive label attached, including the artist's name and other details.
The collection consists of nine larrakitj, or painted hollow logs, and 113 bark paintings painted between 2011 and 2014 by Mulkun Wirrpanda, a senior female Yolngu artist at Yirrkala in north east Arnhem Land. These works are a product of Wirrpanda's interest in documenting the ecology of her country following her participation in a joint project with non-Indigeous artists, printmakers and academics, charting the country and yam supply at Blue Mud Bay.
The works in this collection provide a unique visual record of Yolngu knowledge of plants and food-bearing and medicinal species. Wirrpanda depicts aspects of the plants' life cycle across numerous works, including the gestational period through to fruiting and the interconnections between the food source and the extensive freshwater flood plains and rivers, beaches, sandhills, salt flats and estuaries in her Yolngu country.
W 287mm x H 694mm x D 36mm