Yanjirlpirri or Napaljarri-Warnu Jukurrpa (Star or Seven Sisters Dreaming) by Shanna Napanangka Williams
Artist: Shanna Napanangka Williams
Title: Yanjirlpirri or Napaljarri-Warnu Jukurrpa (Star or Seven Sisters Dreaming)
- Language Group: Warlpiri
- Region: Yuendumu, NT
Size: 30cm x 30cm
Medium: Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
The Napaljarri-Warnu Jukurrpa (Seven Sisters Dreaming) depicts the story of the seven ancestral Napaljarri sisters who are found in the night sky today in the cluster of seven stars in the constellation Taurus, more commonly known as the Pleiades. The Pleiades are seven women of the Napaljarri skin group and are often depicted in paintings of this Jukurrpa carrying the Jampijinpa man ‘wardilyka’ (the bush turkey [Ardeotis australias]) who is in love with the Napaljarri-warnu and who represents the Orion’s Belt cluster of stars. Jukurra-jukurra, the morning star, is a Jakamarra man who is also in love with the seven Napaljarri sisters and is often shown chasing them across the night sky. In a final attempt to escape from the Jakamarra the Napaljarri-warnu turned themselves into fire and ascended to the heavens to become stars. The custodians of the Napaljarri-warnu Jukurrpa are Japaljarri/Jungarrayi men and Napaljarri/Nungarrayi women. Some parts of the Napaljarri-warnu Jukurrpa are closely associated with men’s sacred ceremonies of a very secretive nature.
Yanjirlpirri Jukurrpa (Star Dreaming) tells of the journey of Japaljarri and Jungarrayi men who travelled from Kurlurngalinypa (near Lajamanu) to Yanjirlypirri (west of Yuendumu) and then on to Lake Mackay on the West Australian border. Along the way they performed ‘kurdiji’ (initiation ceremonies) for young men. Women also danced for the ‘kurdiji’. The site depicted in this canvas is Yanjirlypiri (star) where there is a low hill and a water soakage. The importance of this place cannot be overemphasized as young boys are brought here to be initiated from as far as Pitjanjatjara country to the south and Lajamanu to the north.
In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa, associated sites and other elements. Often depicted in paintings for this Jukurrpa is the female star Yantarlarangi (Venus – the Evening Star) who chases the seven Napaljarri sisters for having stolen the night from her.
Shanna Napanangka Williams was born in 1988 in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu , a remote Aboriginal community located 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. Shanna is the great grand-daughter of Paddy Japaljarri Sims (Dec) and Bessie Nakamarra Sims (Dec), two of the founding artists of Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centre located in Yuendumu. Shanna has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, since 2002, when she was 14 years of age. She began painting during the school holidays when the art centre ran cultural maintenance programs for the school children. Shanna paints her father’s Jukurrpa stories, Dreamings which relate directly to her land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. These stories were passed down to her by her father and her great grandfather. Shanna uses an unrestricted palette, building on traditions that stretch back at least fifty millennia, developing a modern interpretation of her traditional culture. The Sims family is indicative of how community based the art centre is with 4 generations actively participating in art centre activities at the same time. Shanna attended the local Yuendumu School. She is now a full time mum looking after her two children Ivan and Diona. When she is not painting or looking after her children she likes to go hunting. She particularly likes hunting for Honey ants.