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In Australian Aboriginal mythology, the Wati kutjara (also Wati kutjarra or Wadi Gudjara) are two young lizard-men (totem: goanna) who, in the Dreaming, travelled all over the Western Desert. In English, their songline is often called the Two Men Dreaming. [1] The Wati kutjara are ubiquitous in the mythology of the Western Desert; [2] indeed, their journey extends for thousands of kilometres, stretching from the Kimberley to South Australia. [1]

Lizard suborder of reptiles

Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with over 6,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic island chains. The group is paraphyletic as it excludes the snakes and Amphisbaenia; some lizards are more closely related to these two excluded groups than they are to other lizards. Lizards range in size from chameleons and geckos a few centimeters long to the 3 meter long Komodo dragon.

Totem spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe

A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.


A goanna is any of several Australian monitor lizards of the genus Varanus, as well as certain species from Southeast Asia.



Wati kutjara is one of the most important Dreamings around Balgo; [2] in Kukatja narratives, the Wati kutjara are often likened to the wind, whose form they adopt when in danger. [2] The men's first action is to sing about their names in order to establish their own identity. [3] Then they decide to travel about, and eventually decide to head south-east in order to enlighten the people there who do not possess the rituals known to the Dreaming heroes. As they travel, they sing of the animals, plants and geographic features that they encounter, naming them and calling them into being. [3] Filled with magical power, these two unmarried brothers eventually travelled all over the Western Desert destroying many dangerous evil spirits. [4] They also created sacred objects. [3]

Balgo, Western Australia Western Australia

Balgo, previously Balgo Hills and Balgo Mission, is a small community in Western Australia that is linked with both the Great Sandy Desert and the Tanami Desert. The community is in the Shire of Halls Creek, off the Tanami Road. It has a petrol station, supermarket, Catholic parish, Luurnpa Catholic School (K–10), Adult Education Centre, clinic and police station. At the 2016 census, Balgo had a population of 359.

The Gugadja, also written Kukatja, are an indigenous Australian people of Western Australia who speak the Kukatja language.

Dreamtime sacred era in Australian Aboriginal mythology

Dreamtime is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religio-cultural worldview attributed to Australian Aboriginal beliefs. It was originally used by Francis Gillen, quickly adopted by his colleague Baldwin Spencer and thereafter popularised by A. P. Elkin, who, however, later revised his views. The Dreaming is used to represent Aboriginal concepts of "time out of time" or "everywhen", during which the land was inhabited by ancestral figures, often of heroic proportions or with supernatural abilities. These figures were often distinct from "gods" as they did not control the material world and were not worshipped, but only revered. The concept of the dreamtime has subsequently become widely adopted beyond its original Australian context and is now part of global popular culture.

The Wati kutjara feature in innumerable stories, whose details vary from region to region. In one recension, they are credited with castrating the Man in the Moon by throwing a magical boomerang, Kidili, because he tried to rape the first woman. [5] In other versions, the Wati kutjara are the ones attempting to seduce the same group of women. [2]

Castration Surgical or chemical action that removes use of testicles

Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which an individual loses use of the testicles. Surgical castration is bilateral orchiectomy, and chemical castration uses pharmaceutical drugs to deactivate the testes. Castration causes sterilization ; it also greatly reduces the production of certain hormones, such as testosterone. Surgical castration in animals is often called neutering.

Boomerang thrown weapon

A boomerang is a thrown tool, typically constructed as a flat airfoil, that is designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang is designed to return to the thrower. It is well known as a weapon used by Indigenous Australians for hunting.

In Australian aboriginal mythology, Kidili was an ancient moon-man who attempted to rape some of the first women on Earth. The Wati-kutjara wounded him in battle, castrating him with a boomerang, and he died of his wounds in a waterhole. The women he was trying to rape became the Pleiades.

Art and literature

James Cowan was an Australian author. He was the author of a number of internationally acclaimed books, including A Troubadour's Testament and Letters from A Wild State. In 1998 he was awarded the prestigious Australian Literature Society's Gold Medal for his novel, A Mapmaker's Dream. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

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Australian Aboriginal religion and mythology ritual and traditional history of the indigenous peoples of Australia

Australian Aboriginal religion and mythology are the stories traditionally performed by Aboriginal peoples within each of the language groups across Australia.

Western Desert language language

The Western Desert language, or Wati, is a dialect cluster of Australian Aboriginal languages in the Pama–Nyungan family.

The Pintupi are an Australian Aboriginal group who are part of the Western Desert cultural group and whose homeland is in the area west of Lake MacDonald and Lake Mackay in Western Australia. These people moved into the Aboriginal communities of Papunya and Haasts Bluff in the west of the Northern Territory in the 1940s–1980s. The last Pintupi to leave their traditional lifestyle in the desert, in 1984, are a group known as the Pintupi Nine, also sometimes called the "lost tribe".

Daisy Jugadai Napaltjarri was a Pintupi-Luritja-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region, and sister of artist Molly Jugadai Napaltjarri. Daisy Jugadai lived and painted at Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory. There she played a significant role in the establishment of Ikuntji Women's Centre, where many artists of the region have worked.

Susie Bootja Bootja Napaltjarri was an Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Born south-west of Balgo, Western Australia, in the 1950s Susie Bootja Bootja married artist Mick Gill Tjakamarra, with whom she had a son, Matthew Gill Tjupurrula.

Tjunkiya Napaltjarri was a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She is the sister of artist Wintjiya Napaltjarri.

Peggy Rockman Napaljarri is a Warlpiri-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Born on what is now Tanami Downs pastoral station, she learned English when working as a child with a white mining family; Peggy Rockman and her family were subsequently relocated by government authorities to Lajamanu, a new community west of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory. Peggy Rockman is one of the traditional owners of Tanami Downs.

Eileen Napaltjarri is a Pintupi-speaking indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Eileen Napaltjarri, also known as Anyima Napaltjarri or Nanyuma Napaltjarri, began painting for Papunya Tula artists' cooperative in 1996. She was named as one of Australian Art Collector magazine's 50 Most Collectible artists in 2008; her works are held by the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Helen Nelson Napaljarri, also known as Helen White Napajarri or Helen Spencer Napaljarri, is a Walpiri-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. A literacy worker in Yuendumu, Northern Territory, Helen began painting with Warlukurlangu Artists in the 1980s. Her paintings are held by the Art Gallery of South Australia and South Australian Museum. She has contributed to several bilingual language books in Walpiri and English.

Linda Yunkata Syddick Napaltjarri is a Pintupi- and Pitjantjatjara- speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Her father was killed when she was young; her mother later married Shorty Lungkarta Tjungarrayi, an artist whose work was a significant influence on Linda Syddick's painting.

Maggie Napaljarri Ross is an Indigenous Australian artist. Her work has been collected by Artbank and the Kluge-Ruhe Museum in the United States.

Topsy Gibson Napaltjarri, also known as Tjayika or Tjanika, is a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region.

Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri is a Walpiri-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Ngoia Pollard married Jack Tjampitjinpa, who became an artist working with the Papunya Tula company, and they had five children.

Molly Jugadai Napaltjarri was a Pintupi- and Luritja-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Her paintings are held in major collections including the National Gallery of Australia.

Mona Rockman Napaljarri is a Warlpiri-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Her paintings and pottery are held in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Norah Nelson Napaljarri is a Warlpiri-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Norah Nelson began painting in 1986 and has exhibited her works both in Australia and other countries. Her paintings and pottery are held in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Jimmy Baker was an Australian Aboriginal artist.

The Wirangu are an indigenous Australian people of the Western coastal region of South Australia.


  1. 1 2 Mudrooroo (1994) Aboriginal Mythology. Thorsons, London, p.167. ISBN   1-85538-306-3
  2. 1 2 3 4 Poirier, S. (2005) A World of Relationships: Itineraries, Dreams and Events in the Australian Western Desert. Univ. Toronto Press, p.71-73.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Cowan, J. (1994) Wirrimanu - Aboriginal Art from the Balgo Hills, Gordon & Breach Arts International, p.32. ISBN   976-8097-75-2
  4. Myers, F.R. (1986) Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self: Sentiment, Place and Politics among Western Desert Aborigines, Univ. California Press, p.239
  5. Berndt, R. M. (1941). "Tribal Migrations and Myths Centring on Ooldea, South Australia". Oceania. 12 (1): 1–20. JSTOR   40327930.
  6. Cowan, J. (1995) Two men dreaming: a memoir, a journey, Brandl & Schlesinger. ISBN   978-0-646-23925-5

See also

Tingari, another major song-myth cycle from the Western Desert

The Tingari (Tingarri) cycle in Australian Aboriginal mythology embodies a vast network of Aboriginal Dreaming (tjukurpa) songlines that traverse the Western Desert region of Australia. Locations and events associated with the Tingari cycle are frequently the subject of Aboriginal Art from the region.