Wp/nys/Charrnock Woman (Junda)

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Junda, or the Charrnock Woman, is a Nyitting Katitjin yarn about the creation of the South West region of Western Australia and tells the tale of Junda's walk through country to collect spirit children, which she kept in her long white hair. The yarn of the Charrnock Woman takes on different meanings dependant on who tells the story, and her motives are reliant on the storyteller.

Charrnock/Charnok/Jarnok Woman - Names for Junda[edit | edit source]

The Katitjin story of Junda is known by many names with numerous spelling variations. Whadjuk Noongar Elder Sandra ___ stated in conversation that the name of this spirit woman is Junda, but her personal name must not be confused with the name attributed to her existence. The Noongar word for "evil" is, in fact, Jarnok - the spelling of which has changed with Wedjela (white person) use. The story of Junda, whilst known to some as the tale of the Charnock/Charrnock/Jarnok Woman, is quite literally translated as the "Tale of the Evil Spirit Woman, Junda". [1]

Nyitting Katitjin (Dreamtime)[edit | edit source]

Much of Noongar culture revolves around intangible heritage aspects, not least of which includes the spirit world, Nyitting (Dreaming or Cold Time). Nyitting Katitjin is essentially a series of Noongar stories based on spiritual events, from which tangible aspects of culture were created [2]. Many Dreamtime stories are told only through word of mouth, or by having a “yarn”, terminology that has similar, if not deeper, connotations to the English definition of the word. In Noongar culture a yarn is not just an enjoyable tale, rather it becomes something infinitely more intrinsic – a tangible way of distributing important cultural knowledge. In the Dreamtime telling, the actions of the Charrnock Woman resulted in the area of Jenalup (Blackwall Reach) and the releasing of children from her hair created a magnificent display in the night sky, something we see every evening – the Milky Way.

The Charrnock Woman Yarn[edit | edit source]

title "The Charrnock Woman animation" - CAN Community Arts Network

The Joondalup Mooro Boodjar however tells a slightly different version of the Charrnock Woman yarn, in which Junda is seen as an almost benevolent spirit who saves the children from being eaten by the tall spirit man.

Different Perspectives[edit | edit source]

The Dreamtime yarn of the creation of the South West region of Western Australia has many different versions, all particularly dependent on which country one hears the tale. Some of these yarns depict the Charrnock Woman as a maternal, beloved being who collected the children out of love. Others, such as this video, depict the Charrnock Woman as an evil spirit who collected the children with the purpose of feeding them to the Charnok Man, who dwelled in a cave near Katter Kich (Wave Rock). This short audio clip features the Whadjuk Elder Marie Taylor discussing the white hair of Junda, the Charrnock Woman.

This yarn is discussed in a recent interview between historian Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe and widely respected Noongar elder Noel Nannup, where Nannup speaks of the dreaming connection between the Noongar people and the South West region. In this yarn, the strongest spirit in the South West of Western Australia is feminine, or Charrnock Woman. Whadjuk Noongar Elder Noel Nannup stated in an interview with historian Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe that "the strongest spirit in the South West region of Western Australia is feminine"[5]. This is embodied in the spiritual presence of the Charrnock Woman, as a tall being with long white hair stretching down her back.

The Charrnock Woman in Contemporary Culture[edit | edit source]

In 1997 traditional artists Sandra Hill, Jenny Dawson and Miv Egan created this beautiful tribute to the story of the Charnok Woman at the East Perth Public Art display. The rich colours and vibrancy of the Charnok Woman’s hair, coupled with the beautiful and ornate ceramic work are a fitting tribute to such a colourful and intangible Dreamtime story.

Junda's story has also been told through other mediums, such as weaving and embroidery, and the resulting doll from this activity was used in a beautifully made film by the Community Arts Network as part of a series focusing on reviving the old Katitjin stories for use in a contemporary society, and to educate the next generation about yarns and Noongar culture. Ms Geri Hayden (pictured, left) talks about her experience making dolls, and creating this representation of Junda.

This video by the Community Arts Network WA, the Charrnock Woman Animation, shows this yarn in more detail.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. S. __, personal communication, October 30, 2017
  2. Name= "Nyitting Yarn" http://www.derbalnara.org.au/katitjin
  3. The Charrnock Woman Yarn http://www.canwa.com.au/project/the-charrnock-woman/
  4. Joondalup Mooro Boodjar Brochure http://www.joondalup.wa.gov.au/Files/Joondalup_Mooro_Boodjar_Brochure.pdf/
  5. Name= "From the Dreaming to Modernity: The Story of the Noongar People of Western Australia" https://www.daa.wa.gov.au/about-the-department/news/from-the-dreaming-to-modernity/
  6. Stories and Stitches https://perthvoiceinteractive.com/2014/05/29/stories-and-stitches/