Miny'tji (clan designs)

The principal element of social organisation in Yolŋu society is the clan. See Clans and Kinship. Each clan possesses its own clan designs or miny'tji.

Examples of Yirritja miny'tji:
Gumatj clan and Madarrpa clan.

Yirritja clan designs
In general the miny'tji of Yirritja moiety clans consists of diamond shapes. There are variations in size and shape of the diamond pattern depending upon the clan. In the case of Madarrpa miny'tji the lines are wavy rather than straight.

Examples of Dhuwa miny'tji:
Marakulu clan and Rirratjiŋu clan

Dhuwa clan designs
In general the miny'tji of Dhuwa moiety clans consist of straight lines. In the case of Rirratjiŋu clan designs the lines are curved to represent rough sea, but not wavy.

The brightness or ‘shimmer’ of intricate miny’tji signifies the presence of spiritual powers. The patterns were produced by the actions of Ancestors as they travelled across and interacted with the land. They form part of the sacred inheritance of each clan, handed down as title to the country formed by their Ancestors and as a reflection of natural proceses.

The patterns of miny’tji allow you to see water in its many states: shallow or deep, turbulent or calm or dancing with light.