Glimpses of Aranda cosmology Part 1 – Altjira Iliiŋka.

This follows on from ‘Larapinta Way’, posted to this blog earlier – but here we take a closer look into the Skyworld – and also learn something of Western Aranda cosmology regarding life on Earth.

Glimpses of Aranda cosmology Part 1 – Altjira Iliiŋka.

WARNING – contains images of Western Aranda People who have passed away.

Bruce Reyburn
May – Sept 2015

“Altjira has emu-feet (ilia – emu, inka – legs, feet) and it is for this reason he is called Altjira iliinka… He dwells in Heaven (alkira) which has existed since eternity (ngambakala); it is represented by the aborigines as a continent. The Milky Way is a great stream (larra; also ulbaia, called creek), with high trees and sweet pereninal (sic-R) springs; here are found delicious berries and fruit in great quantities; flights of birds inhabit the great kingdom of Altjira, while many animals, such as kangaroos (ara), wild cats (tjilpa) etc, prowl about in its huge hunting-grounds. While Altjira himself lies in wait for the game, which comes to the springs to quench its thirst, his wives collect fruits, which grow abundantly in all seasons. The stars (with the exception of a few constellations, which are regarded as belonging to Totem-Gods ascended to Heaven) are the camp-fires of Altjira.” (Carl Strehlow 1907:1-2 (Chewings translation)”

“Hence the sight of the starlit Central Australian sky brought no consolations of immortality to the dark folk who gazed at the full glory of its brilliant magnificence. For mortal men no bridge remained that might have linked the earth to with the sky.” (TGH Strehlow ‘Songs of Central Australia’ 1971:621)


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