The Morning Star in North East Arnhem Land
..... Morning Star ceremonies link together a number
of clans and countries in this region and bridge the divide
between the realm of the deceased and the lands of the living.
Many Morning Star song cycles describe the journey of the soul
of the deceased to the Island of Bralku.
This journey is often sung by mourners in mortuary ceremonies.
One part of the soul returns to its place of conception while
another part climbs the string hanging from the star or follows
its unswerving light. It is not unusual to see this depicted
in bark paintings showing spirits clinging to, or clustered
around the arms of the Morning Star pole.
The Morning Star poles, like so many other religious objects
from this region, are not peripheral to the narratives but integral
to them. What is referred to by the term Morning Star is not
only the celestial body but also a wide variety of ceremonial
objects including poles, baskets and feathered string. Sacred
narratives document the way in which ancestral beings made Morning
Star poles and other items....... © Susan Congreve
Morning Star String
.....The richness of surfaces, feathers, ochre and
string, as light plays across them is an enticement to explore
Elcho Island Artists and Bandigan Morning Star Collection. From
a distance the complexity of visual elements is almost overwhelming
and close-up the details of construction delight the viewer
with their richness and intricate nature. This is a most special
and dynamic collection of sculptural work produced by a small
group of Aboriginal artists from Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island
situated off the coast of Eastern Arnhem Land. The exhibition
consists of Morning Star Poles and artefacts related to their
use in ceremony. Their network of stories and complex meanings
are entwined with those of the materials used to make them.
This article examines the historical, aesthetical and structural
part that string plays in the story.....
© Dr. Louise Hamby 2002
The Ceremonial Complex
..... It is possible to appreciate Aboriginal Art as
an art form from a Western perspective, but it is deprived understanding
when separated from the milieu in which it is produced. Rookmaaker
argues that every work of art is an expression of both the artist
and his understanding of the world. Assuming that this is so
if we do not understand the world of the artist we do not understand
his art. It is true to say of the Yolnu that not only is their
understanding of the world different, they live in a different
reality. The stories told by Yolnu people often appear to be
quaint, or simple to an outsider, particularly when they are
heard completely out of the context of the philosophical framework
in which they have life. The same story can be told in many
different ways according to context and focussed to meet a particular
audience or to emphasise a particular aspect of truth.
The story of the Morning Star is a multi-faceted one that links
to many aspects of Yolnu society. One aspect of the story is
the canoe journey made by one man, Yawulnura, to the place of
the dead. The place he visits, which is usually called Burralku,
is the place where the people (of the Dhuwa Moiety) expect to
go when they die. The story as it was told to me by Mathaman
1 in 1967 contains hardly a reference to Banumbirr This is because
he focussed the story on the journey out and back and on this
as proof of the existence of Burralku itself. The story that
follows is the way he told it.......
© Dr. John Rudder 2002
Yalkarriwuy’s Story of The Travels of Banumbirr,
the Morning Star.
...... Banumbirr, the Morning Star, starts its journey from
Burralku (the place of the dead who belong to the Dhuwa group
of clans) which is away to the east. It rises over the sea to
the east of Arnhem Land heralding the coming arrival of daylight.
According to Yalkarriwuy it is first seen and celebrated by
the two Gälpu mokuys (dead ones) named Wuluwuma and Yanurryanurr
at a place named Naypinya which belongs jointly to the Gälpu
and Djapu clans. He says that they made the first Banumbirr
ceremony, dancing the way the star first rises, travels across
the country to the different clan territories and then at daylight
returns to Burralku. In doing this they made the first Banumbirr
using the leaves and flowers of several yam plants that belong
to the same Dhuwa group of clans as themselves..... ©
Dr. John Rudder 2002
to purchase "BANUMBIRR" a 48 pages
booklet, contact Bandigan