By Diane Bell
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Extra info for Daughters of the Dreaming
Karlarra [West]’, the old lady replied. I had watched the sun set during the yawulyu so I set off on the first track I could locate in that direction. I set down two of the women who lived in the easily accessible brick houses built recently by the local Housing Association, but the other women lived in the makeshift camps of corrugated iron, bush materials and canvas which were located some hundred metres away. The well-worn track divided into a myriad of paths and again I asked which way. My navigator indicated in the appropriate fashion by gesturing with her lower lip in the direction of the track I should follow.
During the next two or three hours various women joined the group. Some wandered away to the nearby store and returned laden with provisions, but all the while the elderly bosses sat in a tight circle painting the bodies of the assembled women and the sacred boards. As they worked, they intoned songs which told of the exploits of the mythological ancestors who pioneered the country 11 Daughters of the Dreaming and gave form and meaning to their society and its institutions, thereby establishing the Law of the Dreamtime or jukurrpa as it is known in Warlpiri, an all-encompassing, all-pervasive force in the lives of desert people.
This wide-ranging and broadly based concept of nurturance is modelled on the Dreamtime experience, itself one all-creative force. For Aboriginal women, as the living descendants of this time, the physical 21 Daughters of the Dreaming acts of giving birth and of lactation are important but are considered to be one individual moment in the much larger and total design of the jukurrpa (Dreamtime). In learning of the way in which country is maintained, I came to know the names of places, flora and fauna, but it was through actual visits to country and participation in yawulyu that I learnt the significance of the women’s world and came to appreciate what country means.
Daughters of the Dreaming by Diane Bell