From Warmun Art Centre, between Kununurra and Wyndham (north of Warmun in Kimberley) are two sharp hills called Jugumirri and Bulgumirri. This Indigenous painting from Australia is about a men’s Corroboree among these hills and about all Gija country.
When the artist Betty Carrington was a little girl the men used to dance this Corroboree at Texas Downs Station. A spirit gave this Corroboree to Betty’s mother in a dream. A relative of Betty’s husband, Patrick Mung Mung, was killed in an accident on Texas Downs Station. His spirit came back to give the Corroboree (including songs for different parts of Gija country) to Betty’s brother, Hector Jandany.
“Hector was droving to Wyndam, he was sleeping and this spirit kept telling him about this Corroboree Ooomba). He followed Hector all the way to Wyndam, trying to give him the Corroboree.
One time, he got sick of him, he tell him – get out of here – take your Corroboree with you. The spirit stopped and had a look around and saw the two hills, Bulgumirri and Jugumirri. He realised he was in a stranger’s country – different country. The spirit said ‘Kamiliny pa nganyi marta nyiji taam yurrung.’ (I’m a stranger in this country, I’ve got to go back to my country). Then the spirit returned and came to Betty’s mother in her dreams, and sat down next to her. He started to make her mother sick with all the songs that he gave her.”
One day, after washing the dishes in the Texas Homestead where they worked, Betty and her sister-in-law returned to her parents’ humpy (shelter). Her father told them that there was a jewarri (devil devil) inside. It was the spirit of Patrick’s uncle. Betty’s father told her to stand by the little window in the humpy while he went through the door of the humpy carrying a flaming torch. The spirit turned into smoke and jumped through the small window. He then materialised into human form again and ran away. Betty and her sister-in-law chased him down to the creek and threw rocks at him. Betty’s mother got better after that and taught Betty’s father and everyone else at Texas that Corroboree.
When dancing this Corroboree men wear paperbark hats on their heads depicing the Bulgumirri and Jugumirri hills near Wyndam and tied bush to their legs. Between the dancers is a bulmi ~ bushes tied together for dancers to change behind. The painting also shows the hills and creek on Texas Downs near the homestead.
Text and Painting image © The Artist & Warmun Art Centre