TDL 2. Water Dreaming, Peter Jangala Ross, 1995,
36" x 24"
circles in this painting represent springs or soakages; the long sinuous
lines are the rains (ngapa) and the smaller straighter lines lightning,
short barred lines are clouds, rainbursts, thunder these are
also body-paint designs. In this painting the two sinuous vertical
lines indicate very heavy rain and the flood waters produced by them
and the horizontal bars the clouds rainburst and thunder.
The Australian Deserts are vast arid areas expanding outward from
the continent's center. Survival in the desert for Aborigines has
always depended on a detailed knowledge of waterholes and the behavior
of plant and animal species, a knowledge gained within the family
through the ceremonial teaching of songs and song cycles recording
the ancient journeys of the groups ancestors
Until quite recently water dominated the lives of Aboriginal people
and the search for food could not be separated from the need for water.
Chains of waterholes or 'soaks" follow the great Dreaming tracks
and many paintings record these. They occur in sequences of locations
memorized as part the great ceremonial song cycles, and visited by
"custodians" who care for each as sacred sites.