Here the daughter of Narritjin has painted mythologies of her Mangalili clan that founded Djarrakpi - the homeland of her clan - and events that gave rise to this clan's mortuary ceremony. An understanding of the work relies on a basic outline of the Mangalili clan's 'outside story' as follows.
It was in the wangarr, ancestral times, when the Guwak (Koel Cuckoo) men, Munuminya and Yikawana, sitting under the shade of the sacred Marawili ( a Gunyawu or bush cashew) tree, instructed the ancestral koel cuckoo Guwak to lead the Mangalili people to this new place they had established for them at Djarrakpi. Haing seen the people settled in their new homeland they announced to the Mangalili their farewell, that they, the Guwak men were to travel out to sea, to a place in the sky and that they would become stars which would shine out of the night sky.
So a canoe and paddles were made and their journey began by paddling down the Milnuya River which flows into the Blue Mud Bay near Djarrakpi. In the bay, at a place of significance, strong winds developed and a wake from the ancestral turtle capsized the canoe - the men drowned. At this place is the site of Yinalpiva, the freshwater crocodile's nesting place. This same place is the spirit source for Mangalili people. The Guwak Men, it was said, had attempts made on them to be rescued. A special log Milkamirri or Bandumul, containing mangrove worms offered itself as assistance. Noykal the ancestral king fish is also manifest in this form. Even the rock cod they had caught for their journey offered assistance, as did Dhala the sea creature. It was to no avail however as the men had destined themselves as offerings, to the night sky where they and subsequent Mangalili soulds are seen today in the Milky Way. These Mangalili souls attain their celestial position by means of possum fur string Burrkun that connects Djarrakpi at the site of the Marawili tree to night sky. Miliyawuy or Milnuya as the Milky Way is also looked upon as the nesting place for the ancestral crocodiles Yinalpiya.
The night bird Guwak became so lonely so he set out to find his friend Marrnu, the possum, to talk to. During the day he found him in several places but Marrnu would not talk to him because it was daylight. Ever since the Guwak only calls at night as he knows that this is the only time Marrnu will answer him. During his travels that day, as he flew along the coast, he saw the kingfish Noykal and feeling hungry called out "Noykal if you will jump out of the water onto the sand I will give you some land." Noykal did so and was gobbled up by the Guwak. At long last he came to Djarrakpi and in the moonlight he saw the sacred tree on a cliff. As he was very tired it was with great relief that he landed in the top of the tree and noticed the Gunyan crabs playing in the sand at the foot of the cliff, running from their holes through the parallel lines of foam left by the ebbing tide. As he sat looking about, he heard a noise and realised Marrnu who came up the tree to the Guwak and they spent the night talking about the sacred places of the Mangalili.
They then sent Garanyirrnyirr with a message to Nyapalinu and asked her to come with them into the Mangalili country. The oppossum travelled ahead and left a path for them to follow. Before the Guwak and Nyapalinu came together at Djarrakpi, when they met at the sacred opossum tree Guwark had already travelled extensively with Garanuyirryirr his messenger, and named sacred places for the Mangalili. Nyapalinu is a somewhat mystical being hovering in the background of the mythology; information about her is very sparingly given and only after many years of contact. She taught the Yolnu women many things; how to look for wild bulb 'yoku' and prepare it for eating, how to make bark string and weave pandanus palm baskets. She came to the mainland from Groote Eylandt, travelling in a giant sized bark water container with a band of specially trained spirit women known as Wurrathilaku, who eventually split up to become the different language and clan groups of the Yirritja moiety, including the Mangalilli. A more important part of Nyapalinu's work was naming flora and fauna and making them Yirritja totems, naming sacred places and making madayin. The digging stick (wapitja) which she made for stripping bark, is a very important symbol on the bark paintings as with this she made all the Yirritja waterholes. One of the signatures of Nyapilingu is her possum string girdle which she wears crossed over her chest. This is mirrored in the crosses across the anvil shapes which represent the wet season clouds.
THe Guwak men are shown as a conjured bird/sacred object set against the Mangalili miny'tji (sacred clan design) with the wavy lines refering to possum tracks in the Marawili tree or crab tracks on sand to name but two levels of meaning. They sit above the representation of the female thunderhead cloud which represents the mother.
This has all been densely patterned in the familiar Buwayak style that was first given prominence in her exhibition of the same name.