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THE FUNCTIONS OF CEREMONY

Until the coming of Yirrkala mission, Yolngu society was non-literate. Their culture, incorporating knowledge and law that made it possible to live sustainably for thousands of years, was passed on through clan names, designs, song cycles and ritual. Yolngu still pass on their sacred knowledge by these means, binding their ancient past to their living present.

The Yolngu have many kinds of ceremony: initiation ceremonies, funerals, cleansing ceremonies and so on. All are concerned with connecting to and harnessing the power of the ancestral domain to achieve a desired outcome. In the case of the Djungguwan, the aim is to bring young boys into the law, identifying them with clansmen of previous generations and with their ancestral origins.

Ceremony
Waiting for the Djungguwan "Law Ceremony" to commence, Yirrkala 2002.