Images of Relatedness: patterning and cultural contexts in Yanyuwa Rock Art, Sir Edward Pellew Islands, SW Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Australia

Liam Brady, John Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 2010 the first collaborative rock art recording project was initiated in the Sir Edward Pellew Islands in northern Australia's Gulf Country. A total of twenty-two sites containing 408 images were recorded from three islands (South West, Black Craggy and Watson) and analysed using formal and informed methods. Preliminary analyses reveal some geographical patterning occurring at the site level and at the individual motif level. Whilst these archaeologically-observed patterns highlight the distribution of rock art across Yanyuwa island country, Yanyuwa interpretations and statements concerning one distinctive motif and two small-scale patterns provide crucial insights into how they understand the place of rock art on their country. By focusing on motifs as 'images of relatedness' that are embedded in a network of relationships that are the basis of Yanyuwa Law and kinship, this paper examines the complexities associated with how archaeologists might interpret patterning in the rock art record. We argue that rock art motifs are not a static representation of something but instead are important images that continue to express and generate concepts of relatedness and which ultimately lead to discussions of a non-human-centred landscape that is premised on attributions of intentionality, obligation, responsibility and reciprocity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
JournalRock Art Research
Volume31
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ethnography
  • Patterning
  • Gulf of Carpentaria
  • Yanyuwa

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