- Sometimes called the “Waddaman” people in old texts, today it’s spelled “Wardaman.” ↩
- “Bulla” means “uncircumcised.” ↩
- The origin story of the Wulgaru comes in a different tale – basically, in ancient times, a lazy man named Djarapa created a golem of sticks and clay and rocks to do his bidding. However, it had a mind of its own and would not obey. In various tellings, it’s described as having taken on the role of judge of the afterlife. I am unclear as to whether there is just one Wulgaru or multiple. The Wulgaru appears in multiple folk tales, including one where a woman named Weinga tricks it into destroying its own arm, and thus escapes from its clutches. ↩
- The original text denotes here that Wungala noticed the Wulgaru, and decided to remain calm, as what it wanted most was for her to be afraid. Given the translation here to a visual medium, I decided to keep her inner thoughts a secret until the end. ↩
- This is nowadays called Bush Bread, although the original text called it “damper bread” – which seems to evolved into more of an umbrella term. It was a type of traditional aboriginal bread created by grinding up seeds, and could possibly predate the invention of bread in Western cultures. ↩
First off: this entry wasn’t taken lightly. Australian aboriginal cultures place enormous cultural importance on storytelling. It is how they maintain their history, how they maintain their culture, and how they pass it down to future generations. In the past, some of their most sacred stories were told to outsiders and then published without cultural understanding or permission, causing a lot of anger and hurt feelings. Although I knew about the story for some time, I only took it on for a couple reasons:
- An Australian reader contacted a while back me at my private Facebook account (please don’t do this) and urged me to do an aboriginal folk tale. When I brought up the cultural appropriation concerns, the reader told me they were Wardaman and that this story had already been cleared for dissemination decades ago, so I should be okay. The reader has since deleted their account (which I only just found out about when I realized I’d forgotten their name and went to go credit them – if that’s you, please get in contact with me!).
- The story comes from a book written by Bill Harney, one of the most highly-regarded outsiders to spend time with the Wardaman – presumably making the story okay for dissemination. His son, Yidumduma Bill Harney, is an Elder and the last Senior Male Aboriginal custodian of the Wardaman people. (if this interests you, I HIGHLY recommend you visit the Yubulyawan Dreaming Project, which documents in video form many of the cultural stories as they were originally told)
- Additionally, I also contacted the Yubulyawan Dreaming Project to get clearance – and got an okay from them (they were mostly worried about copyright law regarding the Harney book).
Anyway! As regards the art decisions for this entry:
- The outfit I have Wungala wear is based on (kangaroo skin?) garments worn by aboriginal tribes farther south than the Wardaman. Traditionally, the aboriginal women of the Northern Territory seemed to go topless, which unfortunately is a bridge too far for some readers. So I tried doing this as a compromise.
- The Wulgaru is described as having a painted-on face and smoothed-out rocks at its joints, but also as quite terrifying – so I fudged the design a bit.
- The area in the story is described as a small sandy flat between a rocky hill and some swampland. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find almost any visual reference of areas like that in the areas the Wardaman live, nor any visual reference of people digging in swamps for bread seeds, so I compromised.
- The Wulgaru cave is directly modeled off of Lasseters Cave in the Northern Territory.
Next Time on Rejected Princesses
My book for the other entry still hasn’t come in, so shuffling it back again. Here’s your hint for the next entry:
After her husband died, this native Chilean fought against the Spanish so hard that Chile’s navy named a series of ships after her.