Australian Museum Journal The snake-woman, Jiningbirna

Shortform:
McCarthy, 1953, Rec. Aust. Mus. 23(3): 105–110
Author(s):
McCarthy, Frederick D.
Year published:
1953
Title:
The snake-woman, Jiningbirna
Serial title:
Records of the Australian Museum
Volume:
23
Issue:
3
Start page:
105
End page:
110
DOI:
10.3853/j.0067-1975.23.1953.624
Language:
English
Plates:
plate ix
Date published:
21 October 1953
Cover date:
21 October 1953
ISSN:
0067-1975
CODEN:
RAUMAJ
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Digitized:
22 April 2009
Available online:
22 July 2009
Reference number:
624
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (125kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (915kb PDF)

Abstract

This site was recorded in 1948, when I visited Groote Eylandt as a member of the Australian and American Arnhem Land Expedition, sponsored by the Oommonwealth Government of Australia and the National Geographic Society of America.

The Myth: In the Aropoia or Dreamtime the mythical snake-woman, Jiningbirna with her four children, came up out of a waterhole, Jininga-madja, on McComb's Point, which separates Hemple and Thompson's bays in Port Langdon. Whilst there, a mythical man, Nanatjua, and his companions tried to capture the woman, but she fled northwards along the beach, taking her children with her. When she reached a lake called Ilarago-madja, which is behind the sand-dunes in the middle of Hemple Bay, she found that two of her four children had been lost during the flight. Jiningbirna, not liking the water in this lake, shifted to a pink-quartzite headland further to the north, named after her. Here she tried to camp, but the rock was too hard wherever she started, and she had to dig out many boulders which she threw in heaps on the ground….