Djäman Gurtha

Making Fire with Firesticks

Page 1:

Dhuwandja dhäwu ḏuttji'wuy. Ŋunhi ŋuli ŋanapurruŋ gurthany bäyŋuthirr, bala napurr ŋuli ḏuttjin' djäma. Dharrwa dharpa mala ḏuttjiny' dhuwal.

This story is about making fire with firesticks. We do this when there is no fire or matches. There are many trees suitable for making firesticks.

Page 2:

Waŋganydja muka dharpa ḏuttji', ga wiripuny malwan.

Napurrnydja dhu lakaram waŋgany dharpa malwanbuy.

One tree is called ḏuttji' (Premna Obtusifolia), and the other is malwan (Native Hibiscus).  The one we have used here is Native Hibiscus.

Page 4:

Ŋurruŋuny napurr ŋuli marrtji mayaŋgurr wo bam'palakurr, bala yurrnha nhäma dharpa malwandja.

Beŋuryiny ḏaw'maram goŋdhuny, bala yikiynha djäma wiriny'tjuna buyuwuyukuman. Dharpany dhuwal märrma', ŋäṉḏi'mirriŋu ga yothu. Ga dhuwandja ŋayi ga djäma yothu, ŋunhi ŋuli napurr ḏuttji'yun dhiyaŋ dharpay.

First, we look around a creek or coastal sand dune until we see a yellow hibiscus tree. We break off straight dead sticks by hand, and then scrape them with a knife to make them smooth. We use two sticks to make fire – a child stick and a mother stick. (This is because when the sticks are being used, they are likened to a baby sucking from the breast of the mother).  Here the man (Andrew Galitju) is shaving the child stick smooth with a knife, because this is the stick that is twirled by rubbing between the hands.

Page 6:

Dhuwandja wuŋiḻi', ŋayi ga nhirrpan nyumukuṉiny' yothu, ga dhiyaŋun ŋuli wiripunhany nhäranhamaram.

In this photo he is driving a smaller sharpened stick into the child stick. This sharpened piece is broken off leaving its point inside the end of the child stick which is in contact with the mother stick during fire making, and from which the heat is derived.

Page 8:

Ŋurruŋuny ŋayi ga dhuwal wiriny'tjun ŋäṉḏi'mirriŋuny, waŋgany gali' yan.

The mother stick is then shaved flat, but only on one side.

Page 10:

Bala dhulu'wilaman yikiynha yothuwnha nhirrpanharaw.

Then the mother firestick is hollowed out with a knife so that the end of the child firestick will fit into it.

Page 12:

Mitthuna ga dhuwandja ŋarŋgany märr ŋayi dhu yalalany yupthun guḻa' gurtha man'pililila.

A little hole is cut at the side so that the smouldering sawdust will be able to fall out and collect on some bark.

Page 14:

Dhuwandja ŋayi ga yarrar'maram ḏäl man'pili, bala ŋayi dhu yalŋgikuman märr ŋayi dhu rulwaŋdhun guḻa ḏuttji'yunawuy gurtha, märr ŋayi dhu bondin nhärany.

Here he is stripping off some outer bark from a stringybark tree.  He will soften this and break it up by rubbing it between his hands.  Later he will place in it the smouldering product of his firesticks, whereupon the stringybark will act like tinder and catch alight.

Page 16:

Ga dhuwana ŋayi yalŋgikunhawuynydja man'pili.  Wiripuny dhu märram räwak mulmu märr dhu bitjan bili nhära bondi.

Here is the softened stringybark. Alternatively dry grass can be used in the same way.

Page 18:

Dhuwandja ŋayi ḏuttji'yun yothuy dharpay, ga ḻukuynydja ŋayi ga dhurrparam ŋäṉḏi'mirriŋuny dharpany.

Here he is twirling the child firestick, whilst firmly holding the mother firestick in place with his feet (sometimes a few grains of sand are put inside the hollow of the mother firestick to help).

Page 20:

Ḏuttji'yun ŋäthil ŋuli ŋurruŋuny ga bäy ŋuli ŋayi ŋäṉḏi'mirriŋu gorrmur'yirra bala guḻany' ŋuli larryun man'pililila bala nhäran.

The firesticks are worked together until the mother firestick gets hot and an amount of smouldering ash falls out and collects on a strip of bark.

Page 22:

Nhäranhawuynydja ŋuli rulwaŋdhun yalŋgilila man'pililila mam'maram gurtha.

This smouldering pile is carefully placed in the ball of softened bark.

Page 24:

Bala boy'yuna gaŋga yan.  Ga wataynha guŋga'yun mirithirrnydja.  Ga beŋuryiny ŋuli ŋäṉarrnha djäma yindin gurtha.

Then he blows into it, only softly.  Wind can also do the trick, (by holding up the ball of bark to the breeze or waving it slowly). In this way a flame grows and the bark catches alight.

Page 26:

Bala beŋuryiny rulwaŋdhun yindilil gurthalil.

Bala yurrnha ŋuli batha'-bathandja ŋarirriny', maypalnydja wo wäyindja mala dhiyaŋ ḏuttji'wuyyu gurthay.

This is then used to light a big fire on which we can cook fish, shellfish or meat.

(This translation is based on the Djambarrpuyŋu text but includes some extra notes in italics from observation of the process itself)