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Possum Dreaming

Janganpa (Possum) Dreaming

The Janganpa Group are Warlpiri and Anmatyere people, originally from the remote regions of Central Australia, north west of Alice Springs, now living in Alice Springs. Janganpa is the Warlpiri word for 'possum', an important totemic animal, but which has now, unfortunately, disappeared from the desert regions of Central Australia.



possum dreaming


Illustrated symbols are:

• The E shapes represent possum tracks


• The circles represent a campsite or waterhole


• The U shape represents the Aboriginal man with spears, shield and boomerangs


• The lines represent the journey path



The ‘kirda’ or custodians of the Janganpa Jukurrpa (common brush-tail possum Dreaming [Trichosurus vulpecula]) are Japaljarri/Jungarrayi men and Napaljarri/Nungarrayi women. Jupurrurla/Jakamarra men and Nupurrurla/Nakamarra women are the ‘kurdungurlu’ (ceremonial police) of this knowledge. ‘Janganpa’ are nocturnal animals that often nest in the hollows of white gum trees (‘wapunungka’). A common ‘janganpa’ story is about a ‘janganpa’ ancestor who travelled all over the Warlpiri lands visiting various sites during the time of the Jukurrpa (Dreamtime), including one site called Jangankurlangu, meaning literally ‘belonging to possum’. The ‘janganpa’ men carry their hunting weapons as they move around the country, wearing ‘majardi’ (hair string skirts). ‘Janganpa’ were once frequently found across much of Warlpiri and neighboring country but have become extinct in recent years. It is speculated that this extinction may be due to feral cat predation and the changes to their habitat caused by the introduction of cattle and other feral animals.The ‘janganpa’ is considered good meat for ‘yapa’ (Warlpiri people).