Council elders set a test for the Sisters
One version of the Seven Sisters story says that during the Dreamtime, the girls had to go through a series of stringent tests to show that they were ready for womanhood and marriage. To do these tests, they would first have to report to the elders within each tribe, who would often deliberate until late in the night before coming up with an appropriate test. Once they had summoned the girls to a council meeting, the elders would inform them of their tasks which frequently involved some very tough and arduous conditions. A common trial in these stories is that the Sisters would need to survive in the desert. The work depicted above is by Gabriella Possum.
The Sisters prepare for the test
The Seven Sisters were only given a small amount of food they could eat at sunrise or sunset and were left in this place for three years until they were ready to move on to the next part of the training. In the subsequent test, they had to take a long and difficult journey for several days through dense brush. They needed to cross high mountains and hot plains and were not given any food during this quest. After three days, the elders allowed the girls to catch wallabies and kangaroos but were warned that they should only eat as much as they needed to satisfy their appetites. Even though they were very hungry, they nevertheless achieved this goal by fighting against their instincts to gorge themselves.
Rising to the occasion
But this was only the start of the challenge for the 7 Sisters, as they needed to pass several other tough tests before the elders agreed that they were ready. Thankfully, the girls managed to pass each test, overcoming pain, torture and other challenges with cheerfulness and fortitude. They then faced one more test — to show that they could conquer their fears. They were told chilling tales in the dead of night and led to believe that monsters and spirits surrounded their encampment. Nevertheless, the Seven Sisters were able to overcome this test as well without widespread panic, much to the delight of the elders.
The Seven Sisters become celestial bodies
Legend has it that the gods and spirits were equally impressed by the fortitude of these girls. On the following morning, they came down and took them up to the sky, where they live to this day. According to the Aboriginals, these girls represent the Seven Sister stars (or the Constellation of the Pleiades) and encourage every generation of girls to follow their sterling example.
The legend of Orion
Another tale of Seven Sisters' Aboriginal origin says that Orion often pursues these ancestral beings. Orion is a figure from Greek mythology and a prominent constellation in the winter sky. But Orion may have originated on Earth following a visit of the Seven Sisters to one of the desert communities. People say that the Sisters flew down to this area and looked for a plateau where they could land. However, the area was populated by a tribe, and they would not get out of the way to let the Sisters land. Once the Sisters finally landed on an adjacent hill, these men decided to pursue them, causing the Sisters to run off. Most of the tribe had enough of the pursuit and gave up, but one individual carried on.Eventually, one of the Sisters broke away from the group to find water. This allowed the pursuing man to catch up with her, and a fight ensued. The sister tried to scream to get attention, and the man tried to swing a stick to subdue her. Legend says that he swung the stick several times and missed on each occasion and that the marks made by the stick can still be seen edged out on the side of a hill.The solo sister ran back to rejoin the rest of the group but discovered that they had already left and ascended into the heavens. She joined them but was again pursued by this individual from the tribe. The Aboriginals believe that he is still in the skies, trying to pursue the Seven Sisters in the form of Orion.
Touch the Pleiades
Many people wonder why this legend is so prominent in Aboriginal culture. It may be something to do with the position of the Pleiades star group, as it appears just above the horizon shortly after sunset. It seems to give a shallow trajectory across the horizon, and some say that the stars actually touch the Earth's surface from time to time. This may be why the Seven Sisters found it so easy to ascend to the heavens in days gone by.
Aboriginal art and the heavens
Many topics within Aboriginal art are inspired by themes such as this. Often, the distant horizon is depicted by a coloured pencil line on a black background, while star symbols show the Seven Sisters and the hunter. Various patterns and circles across the canvas link the stars together, forming halos and other special effects.It's certainly true that Aboriginal art carries very deep meanings inscribed within the law, social structure and culture of the people and are very often linked to the stars in the night skies. These artists are helping to represent their subjects, extend the legend, and keep these themes relevant in everyday life.
Seven Sisters Dreaming artwork at Wentworth Galleries
If you're looking for Seven Sisters dreaming paintings and other artworks, we invite you to visit Wentworth Galleries. Here, we have an extensive array of artworks from Aboriginal culture, and we do everything we can to showcase their work. We want to help them share their stories and introduce people to the fascinating world of the First Nation.Within our Sydney art gallery, you'll find some of Australia's leading artists and some of their best artworks showcased throughout our venue. Wentworth Galleries invites you to rent a painting if you want to experience some Seven Sisters artwork for a limited time. We can also give you a free trial when you're searching for the perfect piece of artwork for your home or office. And for your peace of mind, we also offer a two-year exchange guarantee.
Buy your Seven Sisters Dreaming artwork today
We have an extensive, curated collection of Seven Sisters paintings for sale at Wentworth Galleries. If you need some help before you decide, please get in touch and we will be delighted to answer any questions.