Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Tahlia's Quiet Book - Indigenous Page

I want Tahlia to connect with and learn about her culture, so here is the Indigenous Australian quiet book page I made her:

I modified the Australian Aboriginal Flag by turning the yellow circle into a yellow glove to make the page interactive and resemble cave handprints. The High-5 logo I used as a template was widened at the bottom to allow easier access, but it is still too small and no longer fits her hand inside. She is only three and a bit. Oh well. I will just have to make something to go inside so we can use it as a pocket instead.

The Australian Aboriginal Flag was created by Harold Thomas, and his explanation of the meaning of the colours is as follows (Reference):

  • Black – represents the Aboriginal people of Australia
  • Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector
  • Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land

To read about how Indigenous Australian cave handprints were made and the history and significance, please visit Aboriginal Art Online.

Why Tahlia didn't get a Gamilaraay name:

Gamilaraay is an Indigenous language from north-west NSW. I had wanted to give Tahlia a Gamilaraay middle name, so I used the online Gamilaraay dictionary to look up some words. I was thinking something like 'rainbow' because when God shines through the dew drops (i.e. Tahlia - see my Tahlia's Quiet Book - Front Cover and First Page post) you get a rainbow. However, when I looked into the word for rainbow, I wondered if it would also be the name for the rainbow serpent. I checked with relatives, and they confirmed that it was. I decided against that name very quickly, but I did notice something very interesting about the rainbow serpent's name...

It is made up of two word parts, yulu and wiri...

The words listed below, along with their meanings found on the online  Gamilaraay dictionary helped me come to the following conclusion:

yuluwirri = rainbow

yulu = claw of animal

wirringan = Aboriginal doctor, clever man, Ethn. has magical powers to cure illness or perform malevolent magic, eg. Wirringan nhama marumali 'The clever man will fix him'

wirriil = feather

yulu-gi to play, to dance, to gamble

It seems to me that "yuluwirri", meaning rainbow, and also the name of the rainbow serpent, when translated literally means "clever/feather claw". An odd name, don't you think, when snakes don't actually have feathers or claws.

Although, if you read Genesis 3, where God curses the serpent for tricking Eve, the curse is specifically that from then on, the snake would have to crawl on it's belly (verse 14). It implies that before the curse, besides being known as cunning/crafty, the serpent had legs and/or wings so it did not have to move on it's belly. Maybe that's why it is found in a tree, being somewhat like a reptilian bird. These qualities are also associated with the rainbow serpent's name "yuluwirri"; claws, feathers and cleaverness/malevolence. Perhaps the serpent became known as a snake after losing it's legs and wings.

So I find it fascinating that linguistic evidence exists in the Gamilaraay language for the truth of the story found in Genesis 3. "Yulu-gi", to dance, brings to mind the phrase in English "dance with the devil".

If you are interested in learning Indigenous languages, I discovered this awesome blog 'GAMILARAAY' about the Gamilaraay language, aimed at getting people learning and sharing it!

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