Part two; Vanishing Cultures & Tradition - rare photos of ceremonial & tribal Aboriginals from Arnhem Land, Australia.

The story behind the photos… Tribal Aboriginals from their sacred land in Arnhem Land to rare ancient rock art & burial ceremonies. (Part two)


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Dreamtime… tribal elder, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia

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Seldom seen images that date back some 30 years, shot on Kodachrome and Ektachrome film, way before the digital age.
Going back in time…Dreamtime “forgotten” cultures and tradition of the Australian Aborigines,
Part two. Arnhem Land Northern Territory.

Please remember that I can't show all the photos I have in my archives, and I also had to keep the text brief, otherwise I end up with a Book.

There were many more images I saw, but could NOT record them in respect for the Aboriginals and their believes, recorded only with my eyes, but the memory still lives very deep inside of me.


“At times I am very contend to take home the memory, instead of pursuing the image, this in turn will gain you respect.”-GD-

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Tribal elder in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
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During the mid 80
th I visited Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park many times, and during the cause of my visits became friends with some Aboriginal tribal elders. I am grateful for their spiritual guidance that I got to know some places seldom visited by others.
But even more important, I learned how to take care of our environment and only take from the land what is needed to survive.

I like to thank my dear old friend “Nipper” for his friendship and trust for allowing me into areas normally not visited by any outsiders.

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Hunting in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia

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Australia's Aboriginal culture probably represents the oldest surviving
culture in the world, with the use of stone tool technology and painting with red ochre pigment dating back over 60,000 years.
Arnhem Land is strictly an Aboriginal Reserve located next to Kakadu National Park in the tropical north of Australia. Travel to outside persons is restricted and visitors must obtain an entry permit.

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Mysterious Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
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There are no paved roads and getting around is difficult most of the time but in particular during the wet season when rivers swell and flood the swampy marches. The rivers, swamps and billabongs are also abundant with the large Australian Salt Water Crocodiles and care should be taken when camping near waterways.

An alternative to Arnhem Land is to visit Kakadu National park, which is more accessible, and the Aboriginals left their mark here too, in particular at Obirri Rock, a fantastic gallery of detailed ancient rock art. Or a visit to the spectacular Jim Jim and Twin Waterfalls along the Arnhem Land Escarpment is just breathtaking.

black stork-australia-kakadu-bird-jabiru

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The Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) is a tall long-necked wading bird in the stork family. It is a resident species across south and southeast Asia with a large population in Australia and is very common at “Yellow Waters” in Kakadu National Park.


A visit to Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park is a must once in the area, a swamp (flood plains) with its amazing variety and abundant of wildlife, huge congregation of water fowls, white breasted sea eagles on trees, monitor lizards and saltwater crocodiles that make this area a haven for wildlife photographers.


The Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory have left a great legacy of their culture in the form of art that can be found in caves and rock overhangs where it is protected from the elements. One of the richest of these areas is in Kakadu National Park, the traditional lands of the Gagudju people, in the Top End, west Arnhem Land. There are superb examples of Rock Art in the galleries of Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr, where you can view them easily.

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Selection of not so common rock-art in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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Compared to the arid region in Central Australia, it comes as no surprise with such an abundance of wildlife in the area that in ancient times the aboriginal artist had a lot of motives for their rock art. The area is not only a source of food but played an important role in their spiritual life “The Dreamtime”.

Ubirr, or Obiri Rock for example in the north east of Kakadu, has some of the finest examples of "X-ray art" in the world. The artist not only painted the outside but also the bones and internal organs of the animals, mostly fish like barramundi, but also turtles, birds and reptiles.

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A rare detailed painting of an unusual "Hand stencil", more of a
painting then the commonly found Hand stencils.
Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia

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Hand Stencils are also common all over Australia and some can be dated to 50,000 years old. Aboriginal rock art was still being retouched during my visits in the 80
th as seen in the photos from Arnhem Land, thus making it the world’s longest lasting artistic tradition at that time.

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Aboriginal art in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia
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Detailed Bark painting from Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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Aboriginal rock art being retouched in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia
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A not so common rock-art in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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Dreamtime… Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
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Rock-art in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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The “Ruined City” near the Roper River Aboriginal settlement in Arnhem Land is called also “ruined city of the Moon.” The Aboriginals call this place “Burrangie” the legendary home of giant people who live in the realm of dreamtime.
The “Ruined City” is considered and ultra-sacred Aboriginal site and is strictly off-limits to outsiders.

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The "Ruined City" before sunrise in Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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In the early 80th I was extremely lucky to gain permission from the tribal elders in visiting and exploring the area on foot for a couple of days. This is an amazing and eerie place and no wonder it is considered very sacred to the local Aboriginal tribe.

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Burial Cave in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
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After my visit to the “Ruined City” a burial ceremony took place a few days later at the Roper River aboriginal settlement and after some discussions with the Elders I was permitted to take part in this ceremony…well at least for the first part of the burial, an experience that I never forget.
As for the second part of the ceremony, the elders denied permission and no outsiders were allowed to take part, it is known as the most sacred part of the burial ceremony.

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Burial ceremony Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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Burial ceremony Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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This is another important time for ceremonies on the death of a person, when people paint themselves white as seen in my photos, cut their own bodies to show their remorse for the loss of their loved one, and conduct a series of rituals, songs and dances to ensure the person’s spirit leaves the area and returns to its birth place, from where it can later be reborn.


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Burial ceremony Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

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Burial ceremony Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
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Bathurst Island, home of the Tiwi people, just of the coast of Darwin the capital of the Northern Territory. The facial and body painting of the people here have been described as the most colorful and elaborate of any Australian group.

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Bathurst Island - The decorations essentially relate to the Tiwi people occasions for major ceremonies, for example the
pukumani (mortuary or burial) by painting their bodies with white clay and pulling out their beards.

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A deep red ochre is obtained from the oval polished red stones found on the beach, which are ground then mixed with water; yellow is obtained from a soft yellow ochre stone, also ground to a powder. (The Tiwi sometimes burn the yellow to produce red.) White is generally taken from a clay found all over the island, and black is obtained from charcoal.

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Traditional food sources... Northern Territory, Australia
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Aboriginal women collecting fresh water turtles and File snakes in the vast swamps of the Northern Territory.
(Freshwater streams and billabongs of the Northern Territory are home to the non-venomous file snakes; the Arafura file snake gets its name from its rough, baggy skin, which feels like a file. A nocturnal reptile, the Arafura file snake keeps in the shadows of overhanging trees during the day and forages for food during the night.)

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Dingo running across the dry flood plains in
northern Australia, Northern Territory,

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The Australian Dingo plays an important role in Aboriginal society but they did not arrive in Australia with the first aboriginals some 60,000 years ago as previously thought.
They arrived some 6000 years ago in Australia and were then adopted by the native aboriginals. Dingo bones first appear in faunal deposits between about 3500 and 4000 BP.


Please Note: The following LINKS provided me with some information on the Australian Aboriginals; they are also a good source for further and more detailed reading. Thank You!
GD


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corroboree
http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/index.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-necked_Stork
http://ozoutback.com.au/Australia/rockartkakadu/index.html
http://www.janesoceania.com/australia_aboriginal_mythology/index1.htm
http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/religion.shtml
http://ozoutback.com.au/Australia/rockartkakadu/index.html


Vanishing Cultures & Tradition - part one; rare & historical photos of tribal Aboriginals from Central Australia

The story behind the photos… rare photos of tribal Aboriginals in their sacred
land from Central Australia (part one) & Arnhem Land, (part two) Australia


aborigines-ceremony-central australia

Corroboree - Central Australia,
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A journey through Australia’s past, “forgotten” cultures and tradition of the Australian Aborigines, a two-part series on this Blog.
Rare and seldom seen images that date back more than 30 years, taken on Kodachrome and Ektachrome film, way before the digital age, manipulation and Computers as we know it today.

Images that can never be repeated again, but still represent an important part of Australia’s Culture and Heritage for many years to come.
Part one and two will introduce you to some of these unique images with some explanation on the culture, history and some sacred sites. Please remember that I can't show all the photos I have in my archives and I had to keep the text brief, otherwise I end up with a Book.

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Aboriginal Ceremony near Katherine south of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
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I was fortunately enough to experience some of this amazing culture first hand during the late 70th and mid 80th taken part in tribal ceremonies, visited remote areas in Central Australia, took part of a Burial Ceremony and traveled to sacred parts in Arnhem Land, northern Australia.

I also witnessed how Aboriginals would take care of our environment, taken only what they needed from the land, an important lesson that I treasure to this day.

Corroboree - At corroboree's Aborigines interact with the Dreamtime through dance, music and costume. Many ceremonies act out events from the Dreamtime. Many of the ceremonies are sacred and people from outside a community are not permitted to participate or watch. "Their bodies painted in different ways, and they wore various adornments, which were not used every day."

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Traditional song and dance is very much a part of any Corroboree, using
clap sticks or bilma
and of course the famous Australian Didgeridoo -
Central Australia.
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Recent scientific evidence shows, Aborigines arrived in Australia more than 50,000 years ago and some traditions and beliefs are followed to this present day in remote parts of Arnhem Land.

Some color images (slides) had to be turned into black and white due their color fading over the years, however they still represent this unique culture through Australia’s past.

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Central Australia, Corroboree
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Central Australia,
Corroboree
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Women preparing themselves as part of a rare
Central Australian Corroboree by applying
elaborate body paint

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Indigenous Australians' oral tradition and spiritual values are based upon reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime, The Dreaming is considered to be both the ancient time of creation and the present day reality of Dreaming. There are many different groups, each with their own individual culture, belief structure and language.

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Aerial view of ULURU
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Tribal Elder at ULURU (Ayers Rock) Central Australia
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So lets start with part one and the most sacred site in Australia…Ayers Rock or know to the Aborigines as “ULURU”

Located in Central Australia in the outback is a massive slab of rock know to local Aboriginal tribes as Uluru. Year’s later western explorers named it Ayers Rock after an explorer and the name stuck. Aboriginal people believe Uluru is the origin of life and the center of the universe.
The word Uluru means, “the all-knowing and everlasting” this giant freestanding rock is indeed the most sacred site in Australia to the Aboriginal people and an awesome site for any visitor.

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Aerial view of the OLGAS showing Ayers Rock in the distance,
Central Australia

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But there are so many other mystical places in the Center that played an important role for the Aboriginal Dreamtime, places like the Olgas some 30 miles west of Ayers Rock, remote and spectacular Kings Canyon, Palm Valley an Oasis in the desert, Chambers Pillar or Rainbow Valley just south of Alice Springs.


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A rainbow over Rainbow Valley, a very rare event in the desert region of Central Australia.
This rock formation is actually called Rainbow Valley due to its coloring at the rock face.

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The remote but beautiful Palm Valley in the Alice Springs region of Central Australia
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The method of applying colored earth to the body varies depending on purpose. In most areas, before hunting, The men roughly smeared their bodies with ochre. In southern areas, white settlers' journals often mention the practice of smearing the whole body with earth, colored charcoal and animal fat, ostensibly to camouflage smell, but probably also to maintain body temperature.

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Corroboree's can last over many days pending on the type of ceremony.
Central Australia
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Once a serious Corroboree has started it can go on all night,
Central Australia
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tribal-aboriginale-culture-ceremony-central australia


Very rare and historical image from 1974 during a Corroboree near Tennant Creek,
Central Australia.
Located 500 km north of Alice Springs and 1000 km south of Darwin.
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aboriginale-australia-tribal-sacret-ceremony-rare

Very rare and historical image from 1974 during a Corroboree near Tennant Creek,
Central Australia.
Located 500 km north of Alice Springs and 1000 km south of Darwin.
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ceremony-australia-aboriginale-tribal-sacret


Very rare and historical image from 1974 during a Corroboree near Tennant Creek,
Central Australia.
Located 500 km north of Alice Springs and 1000 km south of Darwin.
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© Gunther Deichmann -
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In tropical areas, coating the skin with earth and fat kept sand flies and mosquitoes at a distance. Much has been said about the decorative and ritual functions of body painting. However, paint on the body has other uses less concerned with painted designs. Paint, specifically ochre, is applied to the body as a coating for protection in fighting.

Australia-aboriginale-ceremony

Once a serious
Corroboree has started it can go on all night
and can last over several days.Central Australia.
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tribal-australia-aboriginale-ceremony

Aborigine carrying a Bark painting as part of this particular dance ceremony - Corroboree.
Central Australia.
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aboriginale-sacret-ceremony-dancing-australia


Once a serious Corroboree has started it can go on all night,
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Stay tuned for part two, Vanishing Cultures and Tradition from the remote and sacred parts in Arnhem Land…the Ruined City and a special burial ceremony.
GD

Please Note: The following LINKS provided me with some of my research on the Australian Aboriginals, they are also a good source for further and more detailed information. Thank You!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corroboree

http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/index.shtml

http://www.janesoceania.com/australia_aboriginal_bodylivingart/index1.htm

http://www.janesoceania.com/australia_aboriginal_sites1/index1.htm

http://www.janesoceania.com/australian_aboriginal_music/index1.htm