As with many other Dreamtime stories in the Aboriginal world, different interpretations exist within various tribes scattered across the country. This is the case for one of the most famous Dreaming stories, Bush Plum Dreaming, often told by tribes who live in the central and western deserts, spread from Warlpiri County through to the Utopia land.
The story of Creation
The story is often referred to as the "Creation" story in the region and begins when the Dreamtime winds blow across the barren land. As these winds flow in from every direction, they carry the Bush Plum seed, which lands and begins to germinate. As these first Bush Plums develop and bear fruit, they eventually drop more seeds, which the winds will then carry across more of the Dreaming lands. This leads to a plentiful supply of the Bush Plum plant and hints at how the plant is seen as an important part of Aboriginal culture.
The provider of sustenance
At one time, the Bush Plum was an essential food throughout these regions, although today, you can only find it at certain times of the year. It may no longer be so popular due to other food sources and means of raising crops and cattle. The Bush Plum will bear fruit in the summer soon after the nourishing rains, and it remains an important source of nutrients, even though some parts of the plant are not suitable for eating. Many Aboriginals harvest the plums when they are ripe and then dry them out so they can eat them later in the year.
The colour of the Bush Plum plant
In its natural form, the fruit is very colourful. It can be green soon after it appears but will gradually turn black or purple. The plant itself can grow more than 3 m high, with greenish blue leaves and a white flower — little wonder that it is such an excellent study for artists in the region.
Paying homage to the Bush Plum
Of course, the Aboriginal people want to ensure that this plant continues to bear fruit each season to provide sustenance. Thus, they pay homage to the spirit associated with the Bush Plum and hold ceremonies where they sing and dance. They will also start to paint artwork to show the vibrance of the Bush Plum plant and record their celebrations. These paintings may often feature the plant's flowers, leaves and fruit, as well as a rendition of the body paint that the local people would typically wear during a major ceremony.
How the Bush Plum plant figures in Dreaming
While the Aboriginals will pay homage to the spirit of the Bush Plum to ensure that it continues to flower, this plant also plays a key part in Warlpiri Dreaming. Here, they say that when a girl is ready to fall in love, she should go to female relatives to ask about how she can find her first lover. They'll tell her how to weave a belt made out of hair and sing songs that will give the belt some special magic.When the girl identifies a man she would like to get to know, she can now entice him by revealing the belt designed to bring him under the influence. When he places the belt around her waist, he will fall under her spell and they will become lifelong partners. During everyday life, they will eat the Bush Plums and demonstrate to other people in the tribe of their association. Eventually, everyone will recognise them as a couple, and the group will realise that the relationship is long-lasting.
Great Aboriginal Dreaming stories
Bush Plum Dreaming is one of the great Aboriginal Dreaming stories (sometimes known as Dreamtime). They often refer to the time when ancestors ruled the land with supernatural abilities and other heroic traits. These stories give the Aboriginal people certain rules about how to conduct their lives and interact with the natural environment. It's a way of pulling together the past, present and future while recognising the physical characteristics of the land and how people, animals and plants need to coexist.In certain Dreamtime stories, spiritual ancestors transformed to become part of the landscape. They may be viewed as trees, rocks or stones and imbued with a life force. The local people may perform ceremonies wherever they find these reincarnations or treat the site as sacred. In doing so, they help retain the spiritual ancestor's life force, ensuring it remains active in perpetuity.
The importance of stories, celebrations and artwork
Aboriginal people believe it is essential to record these fascinating Dreaming stories to impart crucial knowledge and explain their cultural values. To do this, they will tell stories, sing ancient songs, take part in traditional dances and paint their bodies as well as other surfaces. These Dreaming stories are handed down through generations and belong to the group in general rather than the individuals who may tell them. In most tribes, the elders choose who the storytellers are.In the modern day, painters use various materials (such as traditional ochre) as a visual expression of these important beliefs. When these Aboriginal artworks find their way into galleries and private collections, it's a way of preserving history, culture and tradition.
Bush Plum Dreaming artwork at Wentworth Galleries
If you want to see some fine examples of Bush Plum Dreaming artwork, visit Wentworth Galleries. It's our honour to celebrate the Aboriginal culture and showcase the work of these fine artists as they share their Dreaming stories through the medium of these fantastic artworks.At our Sydney art gallery, we display some of Australia's leading artists who have been kind enough to give us some of their best work. And you'll be delighted to hear that you can rent a painting for a limited time, infusing its beauty and meaning to your events or social functions. Wentworth Galleries is the place to go if you want to own an original piece of Bush Plum Dreaming artwork.
Own a Bush Plum Dreaming creation today!
We have a large, curated collection of Aboriginal Dreaming paintings at Wentworth Galleries. We invite you to browse to your heart's content and marvel at the quality of the artwork we have on display from many talented artists. If you want to see how a piece of art looks on the wall at your home or office, we offer a free trial. We can also give you a two-year exchange guarantee. Stay up to date with all the latest art news and should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.