Yabbering with Anzus

Yabbering with Anzus 3

When I was a young bloke escaping every summer from both Melbourne and my parents, I was always amazed at how big the sky was in outback Australia. The further north I went, the bigger the sky. Night time was even more spectacular. One could lie out by the fire, which we hoped would keep the snakes away, and believe that if one just stretched out a little towards the stars it would be possible to touch them. They were magic, so large, so clear and so bright.

It is no wonder that the first aborigines included the stars in their Dreaming stories. When western art materials became readily available, these Dreaming stories were quickly put on canvas. One story common to aboriginal language groups all over Australia is the Seven Sisters story. The Seven sisters are represented by the stars comprising the Pleiades Constellation. They are chased across the sky every night by a male figure represented by Orion, the North Star.

Depending on the locality, the seven sisters can be just seven simple girls wandering around looking for food, or perhaps water girls or sky women. The man pursuing them was usually old, sometimes lazy or hungry, sometimes noble, sometimes sly and sometimes just a hunter. Magic and fire are both common in the stories and often become an important part of the story. The fires carried into the sky by the sisters become the stars. Magic, or the Spirits are the means by which the sisters escape up into the sky.

The Seven Sisters Story is a woman's story and most of the artists who paint the story are women. When the artist is male, the man chasing the sisters is usually a more noble character, a hunter for instance. Sexism perhaps? My website, www.aboriginalartgalleries.com has several Seven Sisters paintings. The paintings are by many different artists, both male and female and have been sourced from all over Australia. Each painting tells a different version of the story.