Coreen Reading

Kungarra Kalbarra - White Cliff Crane - 2022

40.5 x 30.5 cm

Acrylic on canvas board


"A young man travelled from Sweers to Kungarra to visit his Kakaju (uncle). The kakaju had a mirra karndi (beautiful, good wife), and the kardu (nephew) was enamored. Since the kakaju was very elderly, the kardu tried to convince him to give up his karndi but the kakaju just laughed at him. The kardu wasn’t deterred; he still hung around Kungarra, trying to waaja (magically sing) and karndija (take the lady as his own wife). Even though the kardu knew the chants, he had no power, as he had never been ‘through law’; he was uninitiated, therefore wielding no real waaja. Although initially amused at his kardu’s efforts, after a while, the kakaju had enough of him being birdiya birrjilka (acting immorally), especially after the kardu had begin chanting the ‘rilungka’  (sending east towards death) waaja around the camp, trying to muliyatha (hex) the kakaju. The kakaju had been patient, but was a darathirrinda (initiated man) and mayarra dangka (responsible for law), and could no longer tolerate this, he had to junkuyunku (revenge in compensation). This resulted in a bardangu bayi (big fight). The kakaju dulmarutha (knocked down) the kardu and balatha (hit) him. The kardu’s attempts to kurndiyatha (defend himself with his spear) were futile. The kakaju ngadija (wounded) him many times. The kakaju decided that he would use his waaja to completely end all temptation! He waaja the karndi to become a kalbarra (white crane) to fly off, and then he waaja the kardu to a balibali (stingray) to swim off into the ocean, never to be near the kalbarra again. The kakaju himself then returned to his powerful position as waltharra (moon) in the sky."