Gumang (Magpie Geese) by Angela Banyawarra

Gumang (Magpie Geese)

The Yolngu people of Arnhem Land originate from a spiritual source, fixed in a particular place in their land or the sea. These ‘Spiritual Reservoirs’ are often in the form of special waterholes made by Wangarr (Creative Beings) long ago close to the beginning of time.

The creator beings moved across the country side, shaping the land and implanting in each tract of country, the spiritual life force for the people who were to own it. These Creative Spirits took many forms. When they gave the land to each group they also gave songs, dances, ceremony, the associated laws and language. The Creation story for Ganalbingu people took place near the middle section of the Glyde River where it becomes the Goyder River. Their land, Ngaliyindi, sits astride the Arafura Swamp in Central Arnhem Land.

In this painting, the artist has depicted Gumang (magpie geese), which are sacred to the Ganalbingu people. To the east of the Arafura Swamp is a freshwater billabong which is said to have been made by the Goose Spirit and is in the shape of a goose nest. As a result, geese, their eggs and their nests are sacred.