poetryrepairs #242 17,10:117

SUE LITTLETON : Dreamtime
Finding the Bradshaws
ABORIGINAL TRIBES AND THEIR TERRITORIES

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FINDING THE BRADSHAWS

Lost on an expedition into the harsh broken terrain of the Kimberley, Bradshaw, in his erratic wanderings, accidentally stumbled upon these rock paintings of charmingly harmonious people, paintings made perhaps as long ago as fifty thousand years. Faded mulberry-hued drawings of lithe warriors wearing towering headdresses, lively tassels swinging from their waists and circling their arms, fans, boomerangs, wands clutched in their hands, symmetry and fantasy, grace pale gorge walls at the northwest rim of Australia across the straits from Indonesia, predating the aborigines, metamorphosed by the sheer passage of time and the unknown mediums used in their creation into dim shades of purplish red, so old that the aborigines shrug and call these pictographs “rubbish,” painted by forgotten birds that pecked the rock walls until their beaks bled, and then, using their own smooth feather and bright blood and broken beaks fashioned the Bradshaws. The aborigines ignore these ancient figures: as far as the elders are concerned, the paintings are without history or meaning— so old they have no significance to the tribal myths— unlike the many other pictographs / petroglyphs sacred to the tribes, which are constantly renewed by one generation after another of aboriginal artists, whose lifelong task it is to keep bright and clear the mystical beasts and beings each individual tribe believes were first painted and carved on high ravine walls and beneath great overhanging rocks by the gods themselves. The consistent renewing of these ancient sacred symbols has frustrated the efforts of generations of anthropologists and archaeologists to determine the age of the paintings. The loving care of the aboriginal caretakers assures that tests will show they were painted, if not yesterday, day before yesterday, historically speaking.

poetryrepairs #242 17,10:117





ABORIGINAL TRIBES AND THEIR TERRITORIES

Australia... Appealingly eccentric, ocean-wrapped continent of primordial beauty, fringed with green forests and fertile plains slashed with deep rivers, a narrow border of rich plenty surrounding an endless, tortured expanse of land without water or trees, barren, threatening, that the white man calls the “Outback,” a canyon-split, rock-tumbled desert inhabited by a black people with bearded faces and flattened noses with wide-nostrils that enabled them to follow scents the invading whites could not imagine. In Daisy’s time the men ceremonially scarred their bodies with sharp-edged stones; even now at certain times they paint traditional bold lines, dots, whorls across their chests, down their backs, their legs, around their eyes, on their cheeks, in chalk-white, rust-red, night black and ochre mud, the dusty, dark skin so streaked and decorated with geometrically fantastic designs their former nudity was almost unnoticed (in the desert the common garment of both sexes was a simple bark string around the waist). These are Hunter-Gatherers, who once thought their women were impregnated by the wind. The aborigines of Australia are the only group of humans known to modern science who, until the appearance of the white-skinned settlers and the inevitable corruption that comes with the clash of primitive and modern cultures, could communicate over hundreds of miles by thought transference.




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