Friday, January 20, 2012

The story of Yarri

According to the Guardian, Australia is set to recognise Aborigines as first people of continent. It's only amazing that it has taken this long to get this far.

Zac's Place is the beneficiary of a piece of art that celebrates Aboriginal culture.
This isn't the best photo: it still has some of the cellophane wrapping on it for a start! But it tells a story, the story of Yarri.

In the first half of the nineteenth century white immigrants settled in the flood plain of Gundagi ignoring advice from the local people that it was prone to flooding. The settlers coped with minor floods but one day, in 1852, the torrent that had been anticipated arrived and many were drowned in their attempts to escape.

While the flood was at its height it was too dangerous for rowboats to go in the water but one man, an Aborigine named Yarri, took his frail bark canoe and rowed back and for into the raging waters. His canoe could only hold one passenger so time and time again he risked his own life, rescuing, in total, 49 people. On the second day of the rescue another Aborigine named Jacky Jacky joined him and he rescued another 20 settlers.

It's thought to be the first act of reconciliation between the indigenous people and the white settlers, and many of today's Gundagi descendants owe their existence to the bravery of these two men. You can read the full story here.

Apparently, in Aboriginal culture, there can only be one artistic interpretation of an event and the artist of this piece had to search hard to make sure no art illustrating this event already existed. It was commissioned for Zac's Place by our good friends in Australia, and, if you know anything about Aboriginal art you'll know that each dot has a significance: I think there may be 69 dots in fact.


jams o donnell said...

Wow what a beautiful piece. A move to recognise the status of aborigines is so far overdue.

nick said...

It's very hard to interpret aboriginal art unless you know exactly what all the symbols mean in aboriginal history and culture. Glossaries are hard to get hold of so many of the aboriginal works I saw in Australia recently I could only appreciate aesthetically and the full meaning was lost on me. I still don't really understand what dots signify!

It's great that there's going to be a referendum on removing all traces of discrimination against aborigines from the constitution.

Leslie: said...

What a wonderful piece of art! and very meaningful to have the 69 dots.

btw, the photo was taken by D2 on her birthday last May when I took her on an Alaska cruise. Thx!

Furtheron said...

Did the Aboriginals arrive from somewhere else though and destroy huge forests creating the arid environment there now? I just think we have short memories, where ever humans go they generally seem to mess up the original natural balance

Ho Ho - word veri is "cardying" very apt - I'm sure these are planted in someway

Mauigirl said...

Wonderful. And the story is very inspirational.

Liz said...

It is, jams.

I think it has a lot to do with dreams as well, nick.

It's part of the Beatitude art work, leslie.

I sort of assume they were just there, furtheron, and I think it unlikely that they would have destroyed huge forests. We only achieved the ability to do that with the industrial age surely?

Thanks, mauigirl.