This is a Yidaki a muiscal instrument owned exclusively by the Yolngu people of North East Arnhem Land.
Embedded in a complex web of interconnected relationships, the yidaki is part of an extended network comprising the humans and Spirit Beings belonging to Yolngu country, its sacred topography and environment, the Yolngu kinship system and the Yolngu Matha language. The yidaki is thus connected to Yolngu Law and ceremony - song, dance, visual art and narrative.
Djanggawul was the first ancestral hero of the dua moiety people of north-eastern Arnhem Land. He came from a far off mystical place, travelling in a canoe with his two women, who were in charge of sacred emblems, which they intended to distribute as power symbols, or rangga, to clan leaders. The trio is known as the Djan'kawu Ancestors.
They also brought with them their pet goanna, djanda.
After many adventures on the way they landed at Yalangbara, a beach on the Gulf of Carpentaria about 50 kilometres north of Yirrkala. They had been caught in a violent storm on the previous night, and the women lost no time in spreading out their sacred rangga to dry. These included woven armlets and headdresses made from cane, bound with bush string, and then covered with tiny red parakeet feathers. Long floating streamers also made from red feathers were attached to the armlets, and as they radiated out on the sand they were said to resemble the rays of the sun. These and several other sacred adornments were to be worn in ceremonies which the Djan'kawu intended to teach the people as they wandered through north-eastern Arnhem Land.
Djanda wandered off to see if he could find a mate. He saw several goannas basking among the sand dunes and chose one as his companion. At night they lay tail to tail in a hollow log so that their faces were near both openings and as soon as they felt the warm rays of the sun they could awaken the Djan'kawu. At a place called Trial Bay where the Maragula people live Djanda saw a hollow log lying in the river and climbed on top of it. He found a shellfish and began to eat it. The Djankawu made up a song about this, calling the goanna duruwarajirindjurmir (shell in the mouth goanna), and making goannas a sacred dreaming for the Maragulu tribe.