Before our births, void of choice, we became part of the story,
During our lives, with a choice, we can't escape the story,
After death, abandoned choice, the story continues to seep.
- Andrew Mansell

Month: February 2011


Photo by Ilya Genkin

From the day Gurltatakko first painted, it was clear to his family that he was one day destined to be a Yammaiamma, a sorcerer capable of the greatest magic, the rarest men found in Peramangk culture. By the age of eleven his red ochre painted motifs of people and animals mesmerised his tribe. Once as a treat when given some white and yellow ochre he drew a giant serpent surrounded by white dots. Panic soon overcame his tribe. Parents distanced their children from him. Baffled tribal elders wanted to know where the creature came from and why he painted white dots. Gurltatakko told them the serpent came from the Murrundie River in his dream and the white dots protected it from ghosts.

The elders were convinced that Gurltatakko had been given special powers and wanted to initiate him into the life of a Wilya Kundarti but his mother refused and convinced the elders to delay this as he had not reached puberty. His imagination would develop further to stay a Kurkurra, an uninitiated boy able to roam carefree. Besides, the elders had more concerning matters before the upcoming journey. What to do if they were confronted by the ghosts of their own people who rode the giant canoes on the Murrundie River? The Ngarrindjeri had spoken of the ghosts when they last traded with the Peramangk. Both tribes were mystified as to why the white ghosts spoke in a language so foreign. Was it the language of the dead spirits they questioned?