This is one of two paired public ceremonies held by the Warlpiri and their neighbours originally for the settling of disputes but which today are used as memorial ceremonies for important people associated with these ceremonies. The Ngajakula belongs to the N/Jungarrayi, N/Japaljarri, N/Japangardi, N /Japanangka patrilineal moiety who are spoken of as the owners (kirda). The name of the ceremony belonging to the other patrimoiety is Jardiwarnpa.

In the preliminary phase of the ceremony members of the community gather at the ceremonial ground in the late afternoon and while the men sing of the travels of the ancestral beings, the women dance. In the climax to the ceremony the owners burn themselves with bundles of twigs set alight at a central fire to atone collectively for what they have done. Once all owners have burnt themselves, they stand together while their relatives from the opposite moiety, often called managers (kurdungurlu) who help stage-manage the ceremony, light the great wands of eucalypt leaves and shower sparks over the owners, bringing the ceremony to an end.

Related images

Ad100940
Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi
Pintupi c.1920–87
Men in a Bushfire 1972
enamel paint on composition board
64.2 x 50.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of North Broken Hill Ltd, Fellow, 1987
(O.55-1987)
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists
EXHI015173
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri
Anmatyerr c.1932-2002
Bush-fire I 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
62.0 x 46.2 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased, 1994
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015174
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri
Anmatyerr c.1932-2002
Bush-fire II 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
61.0 x 43.0 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased, 1994
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015153

Warlugulong is the first of a series of collaborative works by Clifford Possum and Tim Leura that thoroughly explores the map-like potential of a large canvas and brings together complex, interwoven narratives within an evocation of ancestral geography. Its title refers to the site of Warlukurlangu, which lies about thirty kilometres south of Yuendumu, where a great ancestral fire began. Lungkata, the Blue-tongue Lizard Man, had rested at this site. His two sons following behind, speared a kangaroo, cooked it, and greedily ate it all. The father sensed what had happened and determined to punish them. He blew on a firestick until it glowed, then touched it to a bush. The bush exploded into flame, as the painting illustrates, then burnt everything in its path and soon the two brothers were fighting the flames. Far to the south they perished, going into the ground as the bushfire lost its fury and died.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri
Anmatyerr c.1932-2002
Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri
Anmatyerr c.1929-1984
Warlugulong 1976
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
168.5 x 170.5 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Purchased, 1981 (321.1981)
Photo: Ray Woodbury
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists

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