Jarlarloyni - Donny Woolagoodja

Donny Nyorna WOOLAGOODJA: artist

Not On Display

About the work

Jarlarloyni is a female Wandjina that married Namarali one of the main three Wandjinas that created the laws, country and language for the Ngarinyin, Worrorra, and Wunumbal people. Namarali was originally from Ngarinyin country however he travelled to the Worrorra coast and fell in love with Jarlarloyni. Donny Woolagoodja often depicts Jarlarloyni in his artwork. Langgi, the site of the battle where Jarlarloyni and Namarali died is just north of Wijingarra Bard Bard (the country where Donny grew up and is a TradiƟonal Owner). Donny Woolagoodja speaks about Jarlarloyni; Jarlarloyni belonged to Montgomery reef or to Umadai Ungardon. The pronouncement of that name represents this area (Wijingarra Bard Bard, far north Kimberley coast, Worrorra country). Umadai Ungardon sounds like that word when they say Jarlarloyni. It's like she’s related to this part of the country, and that’s where Namarli got her. He didn’t get her from up there (Ngarinyin country) he found her here and that’s how people got jealous. She was the wrong type of women for Namarli. They didn’t want him to have her. Another story that my father said, that Namarali brother was after her too. That‘s how they made that battle because this clan from this area here didn’t like him to have her so they were trying to kill him. They talked amongst themselves saying he’s trying to take our women away. That’s how the war started. They sent people to all different tribes to tell them to come and help kill Namarali because Namarali was a very smart warrior and very strong. They got a lot of different people to come to fight in the battle to get rid of Namarali. They were asking themselves why Namarali was coming over here to take our women, so they killed both of them, Namarali and Jarlarloyni. Jarlarloyni wasn’t a Ngarinyin woman. Some people say that she came from Ngarinyin country, but I don’t think so. That name, Jarlarloyni, it’s for this country. Namarali fell in love with Jarlarloyni. Namarali ran away from Ngarinyin country because he was angry with his tribe. His tribe was angry at him for coming here and they followed him. Worrorra people were angry at him for stealing Jarlarloyni. Namarali got his wife from here and walked over to Langgi (the site of the battle where Namarali and Jarlarloyni were killed). It’s a similar story for Wijingarra (the northern quoll) who died and raised again after three days. Namarali did the same but Wijingarra was a different story. It was just to tell you how people got married, to the right skin (group). It was also the story for what to do when you become a widow. That’s how the law (rituals carried out by widows) started, and were carried out after that. Namarali made the law for Gurrngdarrdi. Gurrngdarrdi means ‘shelter on top.’ This is the law for how people are to be buried. Namarali told his people before he died ‘I’m going to die now. Don’t bury me in the dirt. Bury me Gurrngdarrdi, on top.’ The people followed him. That’s proper law for burying people now. They hang them on the tree, wait till the body reaches bone, then paint the bone with red ochre, wrap the bones in paper bark and bush string and put it on the shelf in the cave. Both Jarlarloyni and Namarali were Gurrndarrdi. Their bodies were prepared and put “on top”. They were each placed on the shelf in a cave. The caves for Jarlarloyni and Namarali are located approximately 3km’s in from the coast of Langgi (where they were killed with spears of warriors). Today you can still see Jarlarloyni and Namarali as they appear in ochre on the rock surface in their respecƟve caves. Large rock formations at Langgi represent Jarlarloyni and Namarali as well as the other Wandjina warriors that past during this battle.
Jarlarloyni - Donny Woolagoodja
Artist/Maker and role
Donny Nyorna WOOLAGOODJA: artist
print on paper
76.0 x 36.5 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 prints in our collection.