Art and Object collection
R01811.ATS604.Warramiri whale and lightning coat
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Warramiri whale and lightning coat
Burrumarra, David 1917-1994
Art - Artists - Men Warramirri / Warramiri language (N131) (NT SD53-03) David Burrumarra (1917–1994), Yolngu philosopher, diplomat, and leader, was born in 1917 during the dry season at Wadangayu (Bible Camp), Elcho Island NT, son of Ganimburrngu (Lanygarra), and his wife Wanambiwuy, a Brarrngu woman. David was a member of the Warramiri clan. His people had a totemic relationship with the marine environment, particularly the whale and octopus emblems. Burrumarra had received his name from his mother’s mother; in its sacred meaning it refers to the skeleton of the large white-tailed stingray.
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|Object type||ObjectsClothing & dress|
Acrylic on cotton
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|Extent (dimensions)|| |
71 x 51 cm (irregular, largest dimensions)
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Elcho Island (East Arnhem Land NT SC53-15, SD53-03)
Presented to The Governor-General of Australia Sir Zelman Cowen and Lady Anna Cowen in 1978 by David Burrumarra, Elcho Island, Northern Territory. | Transferred by Sir Zelman Cowen and Lady Anna Cowen to AIATSIS in 1982.
|Curatorial statement|| |
In January 1978 David Burrumarra, chairman of the Elcho Island Yolngu Council and Mala (Clan) Leaders Association, was appointed MBE. As part of this event Burrumarra invited the Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen and his wife Lady Anna Cowen, to Elcho Island to invest him with the award. As part of the visit Burrumarra insisted that visiting dignitaries dress in sacred Warramiri whale and lightning caftans/coats designed by himself especially for the event. The sacred Warramiri whale and lightning caftans/coats are a representation of Warramiri lore, practice and connections to the sea. This work is an example of David Burrumarra’s extensive knowledge of lore, practice and language and leadership in the incorporation of Yolngu practice into contemporary western ceremonies.
|Subject||CeremoniesPolitics and Government - National symbols and events - Governors and governors generalCostume and clothing - Cloaks and coats|
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