Djet and Nak Nak : A Story from the Saltwater Country
Aboriginal Studies Press, 2003
5-8yrs, Lower Primary, Primary
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- Art motifs
- Gapuwiyak / Lake Evella (East Arnhem Land SD53-03)
- Hunting and gathering
- Ngukurr (NT Top End Roper SD53-10)
- Stories and motifs
‘Djet and Nak Nak’ is a simple tale about the enduring strength and closeness of family relationships. Father and son are both named Djet and the grandfather is called Nak Nak. One day young Djet finds a dead fish along the beach and returns home to cook it over the open fire. His father is pleased and suggests that they have the fish for lunch while the two grandmothers look for yams in the bush. Young Djet is unwilling to share the fish. The father asks repeatedly for different parts of the fish, but his son refuses each time. The father then goes fishing and catches some crabs and lots of fish. Young Djet learns a lesson when his father says he will not share his fish.
Young Djet cries and turns into a sea eagle. His father then also turns into a sea eagle so they can fly away together and catch fish. Lonely Nak Nak misses his family and he too turns into a sea eagle and joins them. The finale reveals the family flying together above the water while the text offers, ‘Today if you go to the Saltwater Country you will see young and old Djet, and Nak Nak, together looking for fish.’
Each double page features a well-planned layout that invites the viewer to study many small details while opposite the text offers the spare story. Each artwork features on a black page with a different border surrounding each scene in this family’s life. We see the characters sitting around the fire, cooking the fish, walking along the beach, paddling the boat, and, importantly, expressing their emotions through their body language. Each small-sized artwork is framed by an Aboriginal design. The text appears opposite on a dark gold page, bordered by a sketched black line. It is a gem-like production that invites repeated study revealing many small details of this family’s life.
Johnny Wunungmurra-Cudahuma and Helen Wunungamurra-Wilinydja both belong to the clan group Wunnamarra. The story comes from Lake Evalla in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies holds original artwork, created in acrylic on canvas, for this book.
- White-bellied sea-eagle, Australian Museum https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/birds/white-bellied-sea-eagle/
- Fishing in Arnhem Land, Northern Teritory https://northernterritory.com/arnhem-land/see-and-do/fishing
- Bird Watching in Arnhem Land, Northern Teritory https://northernterritory.com/arnhem-land/see-and-do/nature-and-wildlife/bird-watching
- Art, culture and heritage in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory https://northernterritory.com/arnhem-land/see-and-do/art-and-culture