Wati kutjara – The goanna men
Size: 101 X 122cm; acrylic on cotton canvas
Catalogue Number: 24-21
This is the story of two arrogant men who were best friends, powerful magicians and tricksters who came to the Lands from far away to the west. ‘These two men they always together, they always camp together. They do all sorts of tricks when they travel across the lands. Because they travel long way, all around, they stop from place to place’ Belle Davis. When they reached the Blackstone Range (Wirtapi Wara – Long Black) they argued about which way to go around. One went around the south side and the other the northside.
When they saw each other from a distance they didn’t recognise each other. Or it might have been they were just pretending not to recognise each other! It is also said that at Papulankutja they tricked each other by changing their appearance at the same time and didn’t recognising each other. The name Papulankutja comes from the Ngaanyatjarra word for ‘stare without recognising each other’.
‘They usually took the form of goanna but they could turn into other animals as well. At Blackstone, they actually tricked each other when they both changed their appearance at the same time. This is behind the meaning of the name Papulankutja (they couldn’t recognize each other) which is the indigenous name for the Blackstone community. Finally, when they got to Docker River they had become so arrogant that they walked straight into some local men’s business even though they were warned not to by the women. The Docker River men killed them’, Janet Forbes.