Mala - The Specialists

Aboriginal society had many different mala, or specialists. There were people who were healers, rainmakers, crocodile hunters, artists.....and milbi malin - story-tellers like me. The rock art above shows a specialist called mala dambun. He was an assassin - a trained executioner who took revenge or 'payback'. This was an inherited position, and he was a highly skilled professional, trained by his father to stealthily execute by inflicting physical, mental and spiritual damage in undetectable ways.

There was a man that was good at deflecting spears. When someone was in trouble and was going to be punished by having spears thrown at him, he would have a mala digarra to defend him. The mala digarra was like a lawyer and would defend the accused by standing in front of him to deflect the spears. When they were being thrown, wherever the mala digarra moved, that was where the man at the back had to follow, otherwise he couldn't be defended.

Those referred to as 'Elders' were also specialists. This title has nothing to do with age, but refers to people with specialist knowledge who become teachers. Elders were neither king nor chief: they were there to teach young people about survival techniques at a place called the bora, which was like a school.

The man below is an Elder. You can see the stripes that were cut into his skin during initiation. This was done with a white quartz called gun-gaar.  The stripes are high on his chest, telling us that he is a teacher and worthy of respect; whereas the stripes on the mala dambun cover the bottom half of his body, showing that he was a man that taught how to kill.

More rock art stories...
Yirmbal, the Rainbow Serpent
Guurrbi & Ngamu the Guurrbi Man 
Yirmbal, the Creation Story 
Warra & the Circle of Life 

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