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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Ngalingalim berrem (Women’s one’s), 2018

by Shirley Purdie

“My grandmother used to tell my uncle that he couldn’t call these ones names. That’s the witchedy grub; what them gardiya call them the stormbird; the crimson and green parrot; the butterfly; the black cockatoo; that one sounds like a swearword in Gija, but gardiya won’t understand that, that one’s like a mussel. That’s all the things that my grandmother told them young boys they couldn’t say. Now I am teaching my young boys that they can’t say these things either.”

In Gija culture, men and women have special relationships with plants and animals that are gender-specific. They have ‘gukbull’ which is sort of like ‘lambarra’ or an avoidance relationship. But when these men are older, or when they have their own children, then they can say the names of these things again.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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