- Museum number
Sculpture, memorial pole, hollow log coffin, (larrakitj), painted with ochres (earth pigment) on hollowed log. Titled 'Barama/Captain Cook'. Depicting the Dhalwangu ancestor Barama bringing sacred hard wood objects (rangga). His staff is carved in relief and painted on the side of the pole. Two faces are carved in relief and painted in yellow-brown ochre at the top of the pole. Horizontal bands of the Yirritja ancestors' fish trap are shown, with the totemic heron Gany'tjurr. Freshwater systems linking elliptical sacred waterholes are included, and the fields of diamonds with ellipse represent the brackish water associated with fertility - the meeting place of maternal seawater with paternal freshwater. The artist has said that one of the old men with a staff on the pole is Captain Cook (without specifying which).
- Production date
- 2002 (circa)
Diameter: 20 centimetres
Height: 312 centimetres
- Curator's comments
See eth.doc. 831 for account of the significance of the designs.
Summary from the last page of Buku-Larrnggay notes: The artist said, while working on a commission for the Sydney Opera House in 2002, that one of the ancestor figures was Captain Cook. 'They both attempt to imbue the land with law using their sacred object. In Captain Cook's case it is the flagpole which was raised at Sydney Cove. One can assume from the patterns that flow that Barama's law has achieved its goal but there is no sign that Captain Cook's law has influenced the land of the Dhalwangu clan.'
For a discussion of issues relating to land and sovereignty in this area, see Morphy, F 2008, 'Enacting sovereignty in a colonized space: The Yolngu of Blue Mud Bay meet the native title process', in D. Fay and D. James (ed.), The Rights and Wrongs of Land Restitution: 'Restoring What Was Ours', Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon UK, pp. 99-122.
- On display (G24)
- Exhibition history
2004 onwards, BM, Gallery 24, Living and Dying
2015 23 Apr-2 Aug, London, BM, G35, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Bought from Buku Larrngay Mulka, a division of Yirrkala Dhanbul Community Association Inc, Yirrkala via Nhulunbuy, N.T., Australia, by Dr Lissant Bolton with funds from The British Museum Friends.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 2131X (Original catalogue number)