Archives de chercheurs: Barbara GlowczewskiHunting, Warlpiri people, Lajamanu 1984 (1)83949>>
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Hunting, Warlpiri people, Lajamanu 1984 (1) / Liddy Nakamarra digs for yam & goanna / Barbara Glowczewski / Kurlungalinpa road (Buchanan hill), Tanami desert, Central Australia




Seasons and Bush Food


Most Warlpiri people, even though confronted with the violence of white settlement, tried to maintain their semi-nomadic traditional hunting and gathering life until the Second World War.


Coated with animal fat and red ochre, they did not use clothes, but wore only majardi pubic tassels and headbands made with strings of human or possum hair.


They slept in a line with no roof, just a wind-break made of branches. In the daytime they used the shade of trees or bushes, desert oaks, eucalyptus and acacias. When the sun was too strong or it was raining, they built yujuku bough shades in the shape of a dome or an arch. In some regions they could sit in the shade of a rock, but in others, they had to dig the ground to cool off their sun-burnt bodies.


The elders remember with nostalgia the time when they used to walk hundreds of kilometres hunting for game and gathering various bush food. During the dry season (November—December) people gathered near the few waterholes that had not dried out. These gatherings could bring together as many as four hundred people, and were an opportunity to exchange goods not only weapons, tools, ochres and tobacco, but also ceremonies and sacred objects. This was the time for initiations, sorry business and the ritual settling of disputes with the fire ceremony.


When the rainy season started (January—February), the assembly broke up. Young bachelors often went in small groups or in pairs to explore the tribal territory and visit distant relatives, while married men formed small bands with a brother or a brother-in law, their wives, children and some elderly widowed member of the family. They would walk slowly to the land owned by one of the men or his wife, stopping on the way at every waterhole freshly filled with rain.


During the cold season (May—August), the land provided an abundance of plant resources, and game was plentiful. Goannas and blue tongues came out of hibernation. People could camp for weeks in the same place where women found ngayaki tomatoes and other bush fruits, yams and seeds to make dampers or seedcakes, and also small game to grill. Men went for short hunting trips to bring back kangaroos, wallabies or emus, which were cooked in a ground oven. This was the time to celebrate the patriclanic totemic ceremonies, that is, the Dreamings connected with the land inherited from the father. The kirda owners of the clan invited the kurdungurlu managers of other clans, their sisters’ sons and brothers-in-law. Women performed their own rituals connected with the land of their clan or local group, their daughters and sisters-in-law being their kurdungurlu.


At the end of the cold season, a group of men would take a boy or two on a ritual trip to visit other relatives, and sometimes other tribes, as part of their preparation for the Law. When water became scarce (September—October), families dispersed in small groups again to slowly join other big gathering places where the boys were brought back by the men to conclude their initiation with collective festivities.


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Archives de chercheurs: Barbara Glowczewski [Collection(s) 28]
Hunting, Warlpiri people, Lajamanu 1984 (1) [Set(s) 813]
Meta data
Object(s) ID 83949
Permanent URI
Title/DescriptionLiddy Nakamarra digs for yam & goanna
Author(s)Barbara Glowczewski
LocationKurlungalinpa road (Buchanan hill), Tanami desert, Central Australia
Coordinateslat -35.27 / long 149.08
Copyright Barbara Glowczewski
Rank 1 / 22
Filesize 958 Kb | 1562 x 2400 | 8 bits | image/jpeg
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Quote this document Glowczewski, Barbara 1984/04/03 [accessed: 2024/4/13]. "Liddy Nakamarra digs for yam & goanna" (Object Id: 83949). In Hunting, Warlpiri people, Lajamanu 1984 (1). ODSAS:
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