How the Moon got into the Sky

How the Moon Got into the Sky

© 2008 Walha Udi Marvyn McKenzie snr

This digital photo art depicts the Adnyamathanha Yura people story of how the Moon got into the sky and how the marriage rule was established whereby nephews could marry their mother brother’s (uncles) wives who were a generation above them but younger than the nephews.

This photo is made up from a number of different photos that I have joined together to tell the story.

In my lifetime I will only be issuing for public sale a limited edition of only ten copies of this digital photo art.

In the Adnyamathanha Yura Ngawarla language the Moon is known as Vira Vurlka and the Sky is called Ngairri.

Wardu Mudha,

Long ago there lived an old man named Vira Vurlka who had two young wives and he was the Ngamarna (Mother’s Brother) of two Yarkarla-apas (Nephews).

Within Adnyamathanha Yura people culture it is the role and responsibility of your Ngamarna to teach their Yarkarla-apas about the Mudha (customs, laws, history) of their people e.g. responsible for teaching them what food they could and couldn’t eat, kinship rules, marriage, discipline etc

Vira Vurlka’s two Yarkarla-apas were getting sick and tired of him telling them what they couldn’t eat especially when it seemed to them that he would always keep all the best food for himself and they began to fall in love with their Ngamarna wives and wanted them for their own wives, so they decided to do something about their Ngamarna once and for all.

One day the five were out hunting along a gum creek looking for Mai (non-meat food, food in general) and Vaarlu (meat in general) and they came to a large gum tree full of witchetty grubs.

The two Yarkarla-apas said to Vira Vurlka,

‘Look Ngamarna, there are lots of witchetty grubs high up in that tree but it is too high and dangerous for us to climb. Can you climb up there and get some for us?’

‘Okay, okay, Yarkarla-apa’, Vira Vurlka said, ‘I will climb up and get them for you both’.

Vira Vurlka then cut some steps into the tree to make it easier for him to climb up. Then when he was up high enough he then began to climb along a high branch, pulling out the witchetty grubs as he went and throwing them down below to his two Yarkarla-apas who began to eat them.

Now then, every time that the Yarkarla-apa sucked the witchetty grubs they drew in a deep breath of air and they would then aim at the gum tree and blow the air out of their mouth up towards it. This blowing of air made the gum tree grow higher and higher into the sky.

Has the two Yarkarla-apas blew the air out of their mouths they made a loud ‘Foo-foo’ sound and Vira Vurlka heard them and looking down towards them he asked,

‘Hey what are you two up to?’

The two Yarkarla-apas replied

‘We doing nothing Ngamarna. We are just sucking out the juice of the witchetty grub. Get us some more because we are still hungry.’

Vira Vurlka shook his head and began to get more of the witchetty grubs for his Yarkarla-apas unaware that his two Yarkarla-apas were blowing the tree higher and higher until the tree touched the sky.

Far below the two Yarkarla-apas cried out,

‘Ngamarna, look, the tree is touching the sky. Why don’t you reach out and grab the sky before you fall.’

Vira Vurlka then looked and saw how high up he was into the sky and he said ‘Nimba Varpardla Warndaku’, that is, ‘Look how high my head is up here.’

Vira Vurlka began to get giddy from being so high up. Vira Vurlka then reached out to touch the sky for support and has he did so his two Yarkarla-apas then pulled the gum tree down until it was quite small, leaving Vira Vurlka hanging way up high with only the sky to support him getting angrier and angrier by the moment.

Vira Vurlka called down to his two Yarkarla-apas to help him get down but they replied,

‘Ngamarna, we will not help you get down instead you must climb up further into the sky and to forever stay up there to shine. Then you must gradually die and become smaller. After that you will be reborn again and complete the cycle of dying again.’

‘Nimba Varpardla Warndaku’ is all that Vira Vurlka said as he angrily climbed up further into the sky.

‘Nimba Varpardla Warndaku’ is now what Vira Vurlka always says when he is reborn as the full moon.

ViraVurlka two Yarkarla-apas then married his two wives who were younger than they.

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