Milky Way Dreaming

As students enter VSSEC they are welcomed by an aboriginal dot painting representing the lifting of the Milky Way into the sky. In addition to enhancing the aesthetics of the Centre the painting is used as the stimulus for a program exploring Astronomy Myths and Legends and the establishment of scientific investigation.

The cultural significance of the painting within Australia adds another dimension to the program. The artist, Paddy Japaljarri Sim’s country and primary dreaming is the Milky Way. He is the custodian for the story of how the Milky Way came about and why it is up in the sky.

Early scientific investigation is entrenched in mythology and legend. This program at VSSEC expands the perspective of both science and humanities students. At 13-14 yrs old students are still being exposed to new fields of study. This is an oppurtunity to introduce students to astronomy and space.

         Milky Way Dreaming 

Yanjirlpiri Dreaming (Milky Way Dreaming) 2004
Paddy Japaljarri Sims

Japaljarri and Jungarrayi men travelled from Kurlurngalinypa (near Lajamanu) to Yanjirlypirri (west of Yuendumu) and then on the Lake Mackay. On the way they performed kurdiji (initiation ceremonies) for young men. Women also danced for the kurdiji. The site depicted in this canvas in Yanjirlpiri (which means star) where there is a low hill and a water soakage. The importance of this place cannot be overemphasised as yound boys are brought here, to be initiated from as far as Pitjanjatjara country to the south and Lajamanu to the north. The men wear jinjirla (white feathers), during the ceremony, on either side of their heads. They also wear wooden carvings of stars, which are also laid out on the ground as part of the sand paintings produced for business (kurlkurlpa). Ngalyipi (snake vine), shown as sinuous lines, is used to tie witi (ceremonial spears) vertically to the shins of the dancing initiates. These witi are shown as long straight lines. The white circles depict Yanjirlypirri (stars). Japaljarri and Jungarrayi men and Napaljarri and Nungarrayi women are represented as arc shapes, dancing on their journey west.