Objects from Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency.

One of the Juju from Mangkaja, like many of the Joonba and Junba from other communities, was almost lost during the last half of the 20th Century. Due to government policies that took people from the land into settlements and the the events of the Stolen Generation, many people didn’t dance the cycles or sing the songs when they weren’t on the land that they were a part of.

The Joowarri Juju was held onto in the memory of Mervyn Street, a man who is now an elder in his community and was only danced again in recent years.

“This dance belongs to the Gooniyandi people, it started from Mowarri (Palm Spring). It has the song line from Walarri, Mowirri, Joorrgoo and Manda, the Joowarri (little spirit people) took my Yoogi (granny) away for three weeks. The Joowarri fed him and gave him this song. When they brought him back to Louisa Downs station, he told everybody, “I will show you this new dance that was given to me”. He showed some people to dance and built a shelter where the axeman hid. The first night they danced and the second night we waited for some people to finish work at the station, mainly the old girls, then the dance started everyone was there.”

The Joowarri are represented by the round white head pieces with small drift wood ears. White cloth has been twisted around the circles and the ears have been painted white.

 

QUESTION

Have a look at the image of the head dresses representing Joowarri below. The artists have used something a bit different for the ears on the object on the bottom left. Can you tell what it is?

What makes an object contemporary? Are these objects contemporary art pieces? Why or why not? Consider the materials used and the stories behind the objects, has the making of them been affected by recent political or social history?

 

Mervyn Street says of remembering this Juju-

“At night-time we always danced at the stock camp but the dancing stopped in the 1950’s and was forgotten until I revived my songs in 2011 when I went back to my country Mowirri (Palm Spring). We danced at the place were it all started and I am glad I kept the song for so many years and thought about singing it again to pass it on to other generations.”