The Ngadjonji
March 22, 2003 11:16 AM   Subscribe

The Ngadjonji. The history and culture of a Queensland rainforest tribe.
"Theirs was a culture with no chiefs or kings. If the senior men and women of each clan had implied status, it was because of their wisdom and the highest attributes a (Ngadjonji) could possess was a keen memory and great skill in hunting, gathering and bushcraft ... "
Of related interest :- the Aboriginal Memorial, in Canberra, created by 43 artists of the Ramingining community in Arnhem Land.
posted by plep (4 comments total)
George Watson, [the late Ngadjonji Elder] Molly [Raymont] (...) and I went out into the bush with a botanist to identify native plants, each year from 1979 to 1982 - and old Mollie, ninety if she was a day, spindle-legged, walked us all off our feet, pointing with excitement at each new plant she found, giving its name in the everyday style and in Jalnguy ("Mother-in-law language"), explaining what it was used for, how it was cooked, and breaking off a piece to show us. She is truly indestructible.

Mother-in-law language is truly universal.

Cheers, plep: lovely post, full of incident and character.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:46 AM on March 22, 2003

Wow, plep, the Aboriginal Memorial is beautiful, but I had no idea there were so many art-related conventions and taboos:

In Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land restrictions apply on the use of names or images of people who have passed away...


Artists from nine groups worked on the Memorial and, whilst clan designs follow strict conventions ruling subject matter, each individual artist's hand is apparent.


All clans belong to a moiety i.e. one of two complementary halves of society: Dhuwa and Yirritja. All such affiliations play a part in Aboriginal artists' inherited right to paint an established set of designs belonging to their social group; this inheritance is, in fact, the artist's copyright over imagery.

In Arnhem Land, the right to paint is usually inherited patrilineally. although many artists paint their mother's story too.

Interesting. And educational!
posted by taz at 1:16 PM on March 22, 2003

Great stuff, and as an anarchist I'm happy to have the example of a non-hierarchical society. (I wish the Language section had more than a short word list, but I realize I have specialized tastes.)
posted by languagehat at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2003

A meritocracy! Thanks, plep.
posted by troutfishing at 8:47 PM on March 22, 2003

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