THE INSTRUMENTS OF CEREMONY
The substance of Yolngu ceremonies is the enactment of the events and actions of the ancestral beings who created the land, the re-statement of the laws that they made. This is manifested through the songs, dances, paintings, objects and sequences of action that make up ceremonial performances. To the Yolngu these are not only means of expression, but also part of the essence of ancestral beings themselves. They provide a connection with the world of the ancestral past.
Each clan possesses a set of songs, paintings and sacred objects that can be referred to collectively as the clan madayin', which we will term 'sacred law'. The clan's sacred law relates to the action and evidences of the major ancestral beings who created the clan's land. The law of each clan is linked to and overlaps with the comparable law of several other clans of the same moiety. This is because the law refers to the ancestral beings whose journeys always covered the territories of more than one clan.