About this artwork
This miny’tji represents Rulyapa, the rough saltwater country between Nhulunbuy and the large island of Dhambaliya, ballooning up from the secret depths, around the sacred rock Manhala, which can be a manifestation of Daymirri. Daymirri is the whale (or perhaps sea monster) that according to Rirratjingu and Djambarrpuyngu clan manikay (sacred song) pertains to the saltwater country close to Yirrkala. The dome-shaped rock Manhala exposes itself at the low tide, above the rang (tide marks), bleached white, a patina of brine and weather.
Manhala is one of many names given to the rock. Djambarrpuyngu and Rirratjingu clans have many ‘deep’ names that are intoned by the ritual specialists at the culmination of appropriate ceremony. The sea surrounding the rock, its tidal movements, differing states and the effect it had on Yolngu visiting this site in Ancestral times is all recorded in the sacred song. As are all the totemic species of marine life that has these ancestral connections to the Rirratjingu and Djambarrpuyngu. Often painted in this design is Daymirri the whale, Balpa the rock cod, Djumbarr the red emperor, Darrpa the king brown snake and Mutjalanydjal, the dolphin. All of these things and all of their meanings are implied simply by the presence of the miny’tji for the water.
It’s not just Manhala and the power associated with deep seated knowledge that makes this area both sacred and dangerous to those entering with out authority. There are three other rocks in the area of same qualities but these ones; Wakwakbuy, Mulnguwuy and Dharrpawuy, are submerged also.