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Djan’djaris: As told by Alex Bond

09 Djan'djaris Alex Bond.mp3 (2773 KB) mp3 document icon

Djan'djaris are found within Dandiiri Maiwar at Queensland Museum South Bank.


My name is Alex, and I am from the Dala/Kabi Kabi People. My country reaches from the Brisbane River, north, along the coast to Tin Can Bay, including Mary Valley. I’m sharing with you a story about these carvings, which were made by my Great Grandfather, Whardin.

These carvings are of what we, the Aboriginal people of southeast Queensland, commonly call “Djan’djaris”. The term Djan’djari means ‘little or small man’: ‘djan’ meaning ‘man’, and ‘djari’ meaning ‘small’ or ‘little’. Djan’djaris are small, hairy people around the same height as these carvings, and are an important part of our folklore.

According to our history, the Djan’djaris were an ancient people, here on earth before any other human. Djan’djaris had their own camps, often sticking to themselves, and were at times mischievous. They were known to steal people away (mostly children but sometimes adults), but would later return them - sometimes much later, even years later. I think there is even a police record of an Irish farmer from Kilcoy who went missing for about a year because he claimed he was off living with the Djan’djaris.
The Djan’djaris could be considered “the hero of plenty”, as they taught our ancestors to make fire, rope, string and traps, and they taught us how to share.

My Great Grandfather, Whardin, created a corroborre about a time he was accosted by a Djan’djari. It was when he went out collecting food and he came upon some bunya nuts (bonyi) on the ground underneath a bunya tree. There were only a few bunya pods there, and he decided to take them all. He started to put all the nuts in his bag when suddenly, a bunya nut hit him on his shoulder. He looked around but could not see anybody, so he started filling his bag further. Then another nut hit him, this time on the top of his head. He looked up into the bunya tree and there he saw a Djan’djari looking down at him. The Djan’djari then started to lecture him, telling him that he should leave some bunya nuts for the other people that would pass this way, and that he should only take what he needed for himself and his family. So my Great Grandfather did, and went back to Cherbourg and made a corroborre about it.

A more specific term the Kabi Kabi people call the Djan’djari is ‘Dalangur’ or ‘Dangur dalangur’. Djan’djaris are still around today, but they are a bit shy and prefer to stay hidden away.

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