Minyipuru (Jakukyukulyu, Seven Sisters)

Jakayu BILJABU: artist

Not On Display

About the work

“All of this Country is part of Minyipuru. They travelled all the way from Roebourne before flying away. A man was chasing them.He is laying down waiting for them. All around are different water
sources. One day the Minyipuru had been out collecting the wiylki (seeds) to make damper when they found the man asleep and snoring. They were angry at him so they picked up all of the hot seeds and threw them into his face. It burnt his forehead and he had to scrape it off his kuru (eyes). He yelled out “Oh my eyes, my eyes!!!) Then the girls flew away and left him there.” [At Pangkapirni]... one of the sister’s got left behind and taken by Yurla. The six other sisters, in fright and panic, ran a long way away, leaving their sister behind with Yurla. Yurla took the young girl back to his place, even though she didn’t want to go with him. He had this wanti (woman) for the first time, trying to make love with her. The girl tried to run away but Yurla kept a very close eye on her and she was never able to escape. Her six sisters died one by one because they were worrying too much for her. When the wanti died they went into the sky and became stars. At night you can see six stars all together and one bright star all alone - this is the seventh sister.” Minyipuru, or Jakulyukulyu (Seven Sisters) is a central jukurrpa (dreaming) narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation. Relayed in song, dance, stories and paintings, Minyipuru serves as a creation narrative, a source of information relating to the physical properties of the land, and an embodiment of Aboriginal cultural laws. When Martumili Artists was established in 2005, this was the first jukurrpa story the artists agreed to paint for a broader public. Beginning in Roebourne on the west coast of Western Australia, the story morphs in its movement eastward across the land, following a group of women as they walk, dance, and even fly from waterhole to waterhole. As they travel the women camp, sing, wash, dance and gather food, leaving markers in the landscape and creating landforms that remain to this day, such as groupings of rocks and trees, grinding stones and seeds. During the entirety of their journey the women are pursued by a lustful old man, Yurla, although interactions with other animals, groups of men, and spirit beings are also chronicled. Jakayu here makes reference in particular to the travels of the Minyipuru through sites located within her ngurra (home Country, camp), and to two significant incidents, one occurring at Pangkapirni, between Canning Stock Route Wells 35 and 36. At Pangkapirni Yurla, who had been following the women through their travels, finally caught up with them. The women watched him sleep and when he woke up he grabbed one of them and forcibly slept with her. The other women tried to help their sister escape, but they couldn’t free her. They promised that they would stay with Yurla and made him collect wood for them. They teased him, saying “Come and get us!”, and he began to sing a man’s song and ran away happy; his heart was beating fast. However, the Minyipuru were tricking Yurla and instead hid from him, floating in the air in a long line while he ran around trying to find their tracks. Finally they made a kumpu (urinated) on his face, until he couldn’t see anything at all, but he could hear the Minyipuru giggling and laughing above him. He fetched a jannga (ladder) and tried to reach them, but they just floated higher and then pushed the ladder over when he got too close. He eventually tired and fell down, crawling on his stomach. He crawled a long way and then slept, and while he was asleep, the Minyipuru all flew away. From Pangkapirni the Minyipuru continued to flee far to the east and beyond Martu Country, stopping at various sites through central and South Australia, with Yurla pursuing them throughout their journey.
Minyipuru (Jakukyukulyu, Seven Sisters)
Artist/Maker and role
Jakayu BILJABU: artist
acrylic on canvas
91.5 x 91 cm
Credit line
Purchased through The Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation: COVID-19 Arts Stimulus Package, 2020
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.