The Seven Sisters - Dreamtime Story

This painting tells the story of Yanjirlpirri Jukkurpa (Star Dreaming) and/or Napaljarri-wanu Jukurrpa (Seven Sisters Dreaming). Both Dreamings are closely associated with each other; one detailing men’s sacred ceremonies, while the other tells the story from the perspective of the female ancestors.

Yanjirlpirri Jukkurpa (Star Dreaming) tells of the journey of Japaljarri and Jungarrayi men who travelled from Kurlurngalinypa (near Lajaman) to Yanjirlypirri, which is West of Yuendumu. They then travelled on to Lake Mackay on the Western Australian border. Along the way they performed initiation ceremonies - known as ‘kurdiji’- for young men. Women also danced for the ‘kurdiji’. There is a site known as Yanjirlpiri (star) that is still an incredibly important and sacred site. Young boys are brought here to be initiated from as far as Pitjantjatjara country to the south (near the NT and SA border) and Lajamanu to the north (580km South West of Katherine). Yanjirlypiri has a low hill and a water soakage, and when night falls the stars and the land appear inextricably connected. Yanjirlypiri may be depicted in this canvas using traditional iconography. Paintings depicting this Jukkurpa are often accompanied by a representation of the female star Yantarlarangi (also known as Venus – the evening star) who chases the seven Napaljarri sisters for having stolen the night from her.

The Napaljarri-wanu Jukurrpa (Seven Sisters Dreaming) depicts the story of the seven ancestral Napaljarri sisters. An ancestral Jakamarra man was in love with the seven Napaljarri sisters and chased them. In a final attempt to escape from the Jakamarra, the sisters turned themselves into fire and ascended to the heavens to become stars. The seven Napaljarri sisters can be found in the night sky today as a cluster of seven stars that is part of the constellation of Taurus (also known as the Pleiades). Jukurra-jukurra (the morning star) is the Jakamarra man, still chasing the Napaljarri sisters across the night sky. Paintings of this Jukurrpa (dreaming) often depict the seven women carrying the Jampijinpa man ‘wardilyka’ (the bush turkey). He is also in love with the sisters and he is the cluster of stars known as Orion’s Belt. The custodians of this dreaming are men from the Japaljarri/Jungarrayi skin group and women from the Napaljarri/Nungarrayi skin group.

Artwork Story Courtesy of Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists