In Australian mythology, the Djang'kawu were three sacred beings—a brother and two sisters—who created all life on earth. The Aborigines of Arnhem Land in northern Australia tell the story of the three siblings in a series of 500 songs.

Arriving from heaven in a canoe with their companion Bralbral, the Djang'kawu set off to walk across the land carrying digging sticks called rangga. When the Djang'kawu sisters touched the ground with these sticks, they created the water, trees, animals, and all other features of the earth. The sisters were always pregnant, and their children populated the earth.

ritual ceremony that follows a set pattern

Originally, the sisters controlled the magic objects that created life. However, one day while they were sleeping, their brother stole these objects. In the beginning, the sisters had both male and female sex organs, but their brother cut off the male parts so that the sisters appeared like other women. The story of the Djang'kawu is a story about fertility and the creation of the living world. It is also about how—according to myth—men control the power to perform sacred rituals.

See also Australian Mythology ; Creation Stories .

ritual ceremony that follows a set pattern

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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