Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dreaming the Earth Poster

The Secret of Dreaming, Quilt by Peggy Williams

(Based on a poem by Jim Poulter from his book, The Secret of Dreaming, Templestowe: Victoria: Red Hen, 1998. The poem, in turn is based on an aboriginal creation story,)

Once there was nothing but the Spirit of Life (The Great Spirit); and in the mind of the Great Spirit, a dreaming began. The Spirit dreamt of fire, and wind and rain, earth and sky and land and sea.

The Spirit grew tired of dreaming, but wanted the dream to continue and so he sent the secret of dreaming into the world to the Spirit of the Barramundi (Fish) who dreamt of waves and wet sand, but did not understand the dream; Barramundi wanted to dream only of deep still water, so he passed the secret of dreaming to the Spirit of the Currikee (Turtle) who dreamt of rocks and warm sun. But Currikee did not understand the dream and wanted to dream only of waves and wet sand. And so it went from Barramundi to Currikee to Bogai (Lizard) to Eagle to Coonerang (Possum) to Kangaroo. Each animal wanted to dream only of his or her own reality and so each passed the secret of dreaming on.

Finally, after the secret of dreaming had been passed on, it returned to the Great Sprit who then dreamt all the dreams and also dreamt of music, dancing, laughter and children. The Spirit dreamt that all creatures were spirit cousins - each in all and all in each. As long as we honor that Great Spirit's ongoing dream, the secret of dreaming is safe.

Why the Crow Is Black, Quilt by Carol Switzer

One day, a crow and a hawk went hunting together in the bush. After traveling together for some time, they decided to hunt in opposite directions, and, at day's end, share the spoils of their hunt. About noonday, the crow arrived to a lagoon, a haunt of wild ducks. 

The crow prepared to trap the ducks. He took a long piece of hollow reed through which he could breathe under water, and tied a net bag around his waist for the ducks he caught. He submerged himself in the water, breathing through his reed. Without making any sound or movement, he seized a duck by the leg, quickly pulled it beneath the water, killed it, and placed it in his net bag. In a short time he had trapped a number of ducks so he left the lagoon and continued on his way until he came to a river. The crow was so pleased with his success at the lagoon, he decided to spear some fish as well before returning to camp. In a short time, he hurled the spear, and his unerring aim was rewarded with a big fish. The water was soon agitated by many fish, and the crow took advantage of this to spear many more. With his heavy load of game, he headed for camp.

The hawk was less fortunate in his hunting. He stalked a kangaroo for many miles, but lost sight of it in the thickly wooded hills. He tried to fish the river, but the crow had made the water muddy and frightened the fish. Again he was unsuccessful. At last he decided to return to his gunyah (camp) hoping the crow would have some food to share.

When the hawk arrived, he discovered the crow had already prepared his food and eaten, and had not saved anything for him. This annoyed the hawk, so he approached the crow and said: "I see you have had a good hunt today. I walked many miles but could not catch even a lizard. I am tired and would be glad to have my share of food, as we agreed this morning." The crow accused him of being lazy which made the hawk very angry. He attacked the crow and for a long time they struggled around the dying embers of the camp fire, until the hawk seized the crow and rolled him in the black ashes. When the crow recovered, he discovered he could not wash the ashes off. Since that time, crows have always been black.

Goolahwilleel, the TopKnot Pigeons, Quilt by Heidi Sandkuhle

Young Goolahwilleel used to go out hunting every day. His mother and sisters always expected that he would bring home kangaroo and emu for them, but each day he came home without any meat for them. They asked him,"What do you do in the bush each day, as it is obvious that you are not hunting?" Goolahwilleel said, "But I DO hunt each day." "Then why," they said, "do you bring us nothing to eat?" "Tomorrow," he said, "you shall not be disappointed--I will bring you a kangaroo."
But his mother and sisters did not know that everyday, instead of hunting, Goolahwilleel had been gathering wattle-gum, and with this he had been making a perfect model of a kangaroo--complete with tail, ears, and paws. So the next day he came towards the camp carrying this kangaroo made of gum. Seeing him coming and carrying the promised kangaroo, his mother and sisters said, "Oh, Goolahwilleel has kept his word, and now brings us a kangaroo--pile up the fire for tonight we shall eat meat!"

About a hundred yards away from camp, Goolahwilleel put down his kangaroo made of gum and leaves, and came up to the camp. "Where is the kangaroo you brought home?" his mother asked. "Oh, it is over there." And he pointed towards where he had left it. "Where is it?" his sisters cried. "We don't see any kangaroo." "It is right there." said young Goolahwilleel, again pointing to where he had put it. "But all there is is a kangaroo made of gum and leaves." "Did I not say that it was made of gum?" asked Goolahwilleel. "No, you did not." they said. "You said you were bringing us a kangaroo." "And it IS a kangaroo--a beautiful kangaroo that I made all by myself!" And he smiled quite proudly to think what a fine kangaroo he had made.

But his mother and sisters did NOT smile. They seized him and gave him a good beating for deceiving them. They told him that he should never go out alone again, for all he did was play instead of hunt, even though he knew they starved for meat. And so for ever more, the Goolahwilleels went together in flocks, never alone, in search of food.

Wayarnbeh the Turtle, Quilt made by Winnie Roumimper

The Turtle man was out gathering food when he saw the lizard man's wife named Oola and her three children digging yams. Wayamba decided he would like a wife and family, so he took them home. When Wayamba's tribe saw what he had done they were very angry. They approached the Turtle man and said, "You are going to be punished for this." and the Turtle man laughed. Early next morning he saw the fury of his tribe as they showered him with spears.

Wayamba chose the two biggest shield that he had , one slung on his back and one on his front. As the spears came whizzing through the air, Wayamba drew his arms inside the shields and ducked his head down between them. Shower after shower of weapons they slung at him and they were getting closer so that his only chance to get away was to dive into the creek, and the tribe never saw him again. But in the water hole where he had dived, they saw a strange creature which had a plate fixed on it's back. When they tried to catch the creature, it drew in it's head and limbs. So they said, "It's Wayamba." And this was the beginning of Wayamba or Turtles, in the creek

How the Stars were Made, Quilt by Marina Rosario

This quilt was based on the story, “Rolla-Mano and the Evening Star”
Rolla-Mano was the old man of the sea. The blue ocean, with all its wonderful treasures of glistening pearls, white foam and pink coral, belonged to him. In the depths of the sea, he ruled a kingdom of shadows and strange forms, to which the light of the sun descended in green and grey beams. Here and there were patches of sea grass, fine and soft as a snow maiden's hair. In the shadow of the trees lurked a thousand terrors of the deep. In a dark rocky cave, a giant octopus spread its long, writhing tentacles in search of its prey, and gazed the while through the water with large lusterless eyes. In and out of the kelp a grey shark glided while bright-colored fish darted out of the path of danger. Across the rippled sand a great crab ambled awkwardly to its hiding place behind a white-fluted clam shell. And over all, the long, brown arms of the sea kelp forest waved to and fro.

One day Rolla-Mano went to fish in a lonely mangrove swamp close to the sea shore. He caught many fish, and cooked them at a fire. While eating, two women approach him with lithe, graceful, beautiful bodies and in their eyes was the soft light of the dusk. When they spoke, their voices were as sweet and low as the sighing of the night breeze through the reeds in the river. With the intention of capturing them, Rolla-Mano hid in the branches of the mangrove tree, and, when the women came close, he threw his net over them. One, however, escaped by diving into the water. He was so enraged at her escape that he jumped in after her with a burning fire stick in his hand. As soon as the fire stick touched the water, the sparks hissed and scattered to the sky, where they remain as golden stars to this day.

Rolla-Mano did not capture the woman who dived into the dark waters of the swamp. After a fruitless search he returned to the shore and took the other woman to live with him forever in the sky. She is the evening star. From her resting place, she gazes through the mists of eternity at the restless sea--the dark, mysterious kingdom of Rolla-Mano. On a clear summer night, when the sky is studded with golden stars, remember they are the sparks from the fire stick of Rolla-Mano, and the beautiful evening star is the woman he captured in the trees of the mangrove swamp.

Kookaburras at the River's Edge, Quilt by Marie O’Kelley

Kookaburra, one of the wives of Googarh, was the mother of three sons, one grown and living away, and other two only
little boys. Their camp was near a goolahgool, a water-holding tree, of the iron bark or box species where they obtained water.

One day, Googarh, the iguana, and his two wives went out hunting, leaving the two little Kookaburras alone at camp. The hunters took water for themselves, but left none for the children, who were too small to get any from the goolahgool for themselves, so nearly perished from thirst. Suddenly they saw a man coming towards them who turned out to be their big brother.

When he learned his mother had left his little brothers to perish of thirst, he decided to punish her. He climbed the goolahgool and split it in two causing the water to gush out in a swiftly running stream. Soon the little fellows quenched their thirst and then, in their joy, bathed in the water, which grew in volume every moment.

When the hunters finally returned, they tried to cross the rushing stream, but it was too deep. They were soon engulfed in the rushing stream, drawn down by the current and drowned

Belah, the Sun Woman. Quilt by Rosa Kitchen

In the beginning of time, Belah, the warrior Sun Woman, whose campfire was the only light on earth at the time, would kill, roast, and eat anyone she caught.

Kudna, the Lizard Man traveled through the country with 5 boomerangs. He found all his friends had been eaten by the Sun Woman. He vowed to kill her. The first boomerang knocked her into her fire and off the edge of the earth. The earth was plunged into darkness.

He threw the remaining 4 boomerangs to the 4 directions and the final he threw to the east, For the first time ever, a light appeared on the eastern rim of the Earth. Suddenly, a great ball of fire rose high into the air and traveled, ever so slowly, across the sky and disappeared into the western sky, thus creating day and night.

To this day the Aboriginal people of the Flinders Ranges will not kill a goanna or gecko because they believe the Lizard Man saved them from the Warrior Woman, Belah and a life of darkness.

The Fire Makers, Quilt by Sandy Hart

When Bootoolgah, the crane, married Goonur, the kangaroo rat, there was no fire in their country. They had to eat their food raw or dried in the sun. One day Bootoolgah rubbed two pieces of wood together, and saw a faint spark and then a slight smoke. "Look," he said to Goonur, "see what comes when I rub these pieces of wood together! Goonur said “Split your stick, Bootoolgah, and place in the opening bark and grass that even one spark may kindle a light." They had discovered the art of fire making but agreed to keep their secret from all the tribes. They hid their firesticks in their comebee in the openmouthed seeds of the Bingahwinguls,.

When they returned to camp, they took some of their cooked fish with them. The others tasted it and found it better than the usual sun-dried fish and hungered for it. Great was the talk about how to possess the comebee with the fire stick in it. They decided to hold a corrobboree on a scale not often seen to astonish Bootoolgah and Goonur so they would forget to guard their precious comebee. All the tribes engaged in great preparations to outdo the others in the diversity of colouring and design.

Great was the gathering that Bootoolgah and Goonur found assembled as they hurried on to the corrobboree. But Bootoolgah warned Goonur they must take no active part so they could guard their combee. However, when the Bralgahs bean to dance Goonur threw herself back, helpless with laughter, and the comebee slipped from her arm. Beeargah, the Hawk, who had been assigned to watch them, snatched it. Bootoolgah and Goonur discovered their precious comebee was gone and gave chase, but Beeargah fired the grass with the stick as he ran. Fire become the common property of all the tribes there assembled.

Bibee (woodpecker) and his Euloowiree (rainbow), Quilt by Iris Frank

Bibee much wanted to marry Deereeree, a widow with four little girls, who lived in a camp not far from his. Every night Bibee heard Deereeree crying with fright. Finally he asked her to marry him and share his camp so he could take care of her and she wouldn't be frightened. Deereeree refused.

Bibee continued asking Deereeree to marry him, but she repeatedly refused. He wondered and wondered how he could induce her to change her mind until at last he thought of a plan.
He made a beautiful, many coloured arch, which he called Euloowirree, and he placed it across the sky, as a roadway from the earth to the stars, and then he went into his camp to wait. When Deereeree saw the wonderful rainbow, she thought something dreadful might happen and she was terribly frightened. She gathered her girls and together and they fled to Bibbee's camp for protection. Bibbee proudly told her he made the rainbow, to show how strong he was and how safe she would be if she married him. Bibee's desire was fulfilled when Deereeree finally consented to the marriage.

Long afterwards when they died, Bibbee was changed into the woodpecker, or climbing tree bird, who is always running up trees to admire his famous roadway, his Euloowirree, the building of which won him his wife.

Fish Moon, Quilt by Pelé Fleming

A group of Aboriginal women from Arnhem Land swam across a channel to an island searching for food. One of their favorite foods was the purple water lily which grew in a lake. Suddenly, the rounded back of a large fish curved out of the water. The women ran to the edge of the lake where a rock hung over the water. A fish swam below the rock and a woman speared it. They built a fire to cook the fish. 

After a while, they looked at the stones in the fire and the fish was gone. It was half-way up the trunk, climbing upwards in the other direction. They watched it grow smaller as it reached the top. It didn’t stop; it was perfectly round. The women watched it as it sank behind the hills. They waited for night to arrive again to see if the fish would appear in the sky. 

The sun went down, and they knew the fish was coming long before they saw it because radiance was streaming across the eastern sky. It rose slowly, but it was a little smaller than it had been when it climbed the tree and escaped from the earth. It was no longer round but slightly flatted as though it had been lying on its side. Every night the fish made its long journey from east to west and grew smaller until after many nights, it was only a thin, curved sliver of light... and then it was gone.

The Song that the Elder Sang to the Emu Quilt by Jean Davidson

“Garlaya darlu birni, ngayunha gulila”
(You boastful emu, listen to me.)

“Nhurraba ngula barrabagu”
(You won’t ever fly again. You won’t ever fly again.)

“Ngaba nhurrabu dirdu, jinangga barnangga barrabithagu.”
(From now on, you will only walk and run.)

At one time the largest birds flying in the air were the happy Emus. They were pleased with themselves and began to be very boastful. The Emus made sure that all the smaller birds saw their flapping behavior. The small birds began to tire of these bragging big birds and they stopped singing.

The little birds couldn't get help from other birds or animals to stop the Emu's harrasement. In desperation they appealed to the highest ranking elder. He responded by saying, "You boastful Emus, listen to me!" "You won't ever fly again, you won't ever fly again!". "From now on you will only walk and run".

The end result was that there was room for small birds to fly and sing and for humans and Emus to move about in the bush.

(this version of the story was furnished by a quilting friend of Jean's from southwest Australia.)

The Bindeah Bush, Quilt by Cathy Cavagnaro

Oolah the lizard was tired of lying in the sun, doing nothing. So he said, "I will go and play." He took his boomerangs out, and began to practice throwing them. While he was doing so a Galah came up, and stood near, watching the boomerangs come flying back, for the kind of boomerangs Oolah was throwing were the bubberahs. They are smaller than others, and more curved, and when they are properly thrown they return to the thrower, which other boomerangs do not.

Oolah was proud of having the gay Galah to watch his skill. In his pride he gave the bub-berah an extra twist, and threw it with all his might. Whizz, whizzing through the air, back it came, hitting, as it passed her, the Galah on the top of her head, taking both feathers and skin clean off. The Galah set up a hideous, cawing, croaking shriek, and flew about, stopping every few minutes to knock her head on the ground like a mad bird. Oolah was so frightened when he saw what he had done, and noticed that the blood was flowing from the Galah's head, that he glided away to hide under a bindeah bush. But the Galah saw him. She never stopped the hideous noise she was making for a minute, but, still shrieking, followed Oolah. When she reached the bindeah bush she rushed at Oolah, seized him with her beak, rolled him on the bush until every bindeah had made a hole in his skin. Then she rubbed his skin with her own bleeding head. "Now then," she said "you Oolah shall carry bindeahs on you always and the stain of my blood."
"And you," said Oolah, as he hissed with pain from the tingling of the prickles, "shall be a bald-headed bird as long as I am a red prickly lizard."

So to this day, underneath the Galah's crest you can always find the bald patch which the bubberah of Oolah first made. And in the country of the Galahs are lizards coloured reddish brown, and covered with spikes like bindeah prickles.

Pleiades, The Seven Sisters Quilt by Anna Brenkwitz

Wurrunnah a black man was not well cared for by his tribe so he left to move on and live alone until he could find a new people in a new country. As he traveled he came upon a tribe of only seven girls. The Meamei tribe from a far away country was friendly towards him when they found that he was alone and hungry. They gave him food and allowed him to camp with them. They came to this country to stay for awhile and thence return whence they had come. He left the camp to hide near and watch what they did and see if he could steal a wife. As the women were digging with tools for food he took two tools to delay two girls leaving. The tribe left and the two girls came back to get their tools and Wurrunnah jumped out of his hiding place to seize both girls. He said he would care well for them and wanted two wives so the girls stayed.

Often thinking of their five sisters they pondered what happened to the sisters, if they were hunting for them, or whether they had gone back to their tribe to get assistance. One day Wurrunnah sent them to gather bark the fire would not burn. As the women used their combs to cut bark, each felt the tree rising higher out of the ground and bearing her upward with it. Higher and higher grew the trees. Wurrunah came looking for the women not hearing chopping sounds anymore. He found the trees growing higher. Clinging to the trunks of the trees high in the air he saw his two wives. He called to them but no answer. The trees grew taller until they reached the sky. From the sky the five Meamei looked out, called to their two sisters bidding them not to be afraid and come to them. 
Quickly the two girls climbed up when they heard the voices of their sisters. When they reached the top of the trees the five sisters in the sky stretched forth their hands and drew them to live with them in the sky forever. And there, if you look, you may see the seven sisters together. You perhaps know them as the Pleiades, but the black fellows call them the Meamei.

How the Kangaroo got her Pouch, Quilt by Maris Azevedo

Long ago the kangaroo was grooming her joey on the bank of a brook. On this day, an old wombat, who is va god in disguise, staggered toward them. “Oh dear”, the kangaroo whispered to her baby. This wombat is old and sick. As the kangaroo and her joey neared she heard him say “useless and worthless, worthless and useless. “What’s the trouble, friend wombat?” she asked. “I’m blind,” the wombat replied. “Nobody wants me around, they’ve abandoned me, all of them.” The kangaroo, who had a tender heart, said, “It’s not as bad as all that. I’ll be your friend. My joey and I will show you where the tastiest grass grows.” She let the wombat hold her tail. Then, slowly, she led him over to the juiciest grass and cleanest water. The old wombat sighed with pleasure. It made the kangaroo happy to see him feeling better.

Suddenly, she remembered her Joey! She had told him to stay close, but he had wandered off again. She found her joey asleep under a gum tree. She remembered the wombat and went to check on him. An aboriginal hunter, silently stalking the wombat! The kangaroo froze. She couldn’t even breathe. She wanted to run, but the wombat was like her joey, she had to protect him! She warned the wombat to run and he did. The hunter didn’t care. Now all he wanted was the kangaroo!

She hopped as hard and fast as she could into the bush, away, away from where she had left her joey asleep. She ran for her life. At last she came to a cave. The hunter ran past the mouth of the cave! The kangaroo stayed inside, listening for his return. Finally, she saw him walk past the mouth of the cave again, his boomerang hanging from his hand. She waited until it was safe, then ran as fast as she could back to the gum tree, where she found her joey. 
Together they went to look for the wombat, but he had gone. What the kangaroo mother didn’t know was that the wombat wasn’t a wombat. He was actually the great god Byamee who had put on a disguise. Byamee had descended from the sky world to find out which of his creatures had the kindest heart. Now he had an answer that pleased him greatly: the kangaroo. Byamee wanted to give her the gift that would help her most of all. So he called the sky spirits together and said, “Go down below to where the eucalyptus grow tall. Peel the long strips of bark and make a dilly bag apron: give it to the kangaroo mother and explain that she must tie it around her waist.”

The kangaroo mother was very happy with her gift. But because she was the kindest creature of all, she didn’t want to keep it only for herself. She thought about the other marsupials. Byamee loved the kangaroo’s generous heart. So he decided to make pouches for all the other marsupial mothers.

Dreaming The Earth, A Fiber Arts Exhibit

The Off-kilter Quilters, a small group of quilters who are members of the