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The Djaui, also commonly called the Jawi, are an indigenous Australian people of the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.


Jawi is an almost extinct language, belonging to the western branch of the non-Pama-Nyungan Nyulnyulan family. It is close to Baada.

Social and economic organization

The Djaui were industrious seafaring traders. The Ongkarango furnished them with mandjilal wood for their catamarans, and the Djaui in turn supplied the Baada with this buoyant mangrovial timber for the latter's log rafts.[1] They in turn bartered shells in return for wooden spears from the inland Warwa and Njikena tribes.[2]


Including outlying reefs of the archipelago, the Djaui (iwany-oon('Sunday Islanders'))[3] controlled about 50 square miles (130 km2) of territory, with their centres at Tohau-i and Sunday Island (Ewenu) in the King Sound. To their north lay West Roe. The western limit was Jackson Island.

History of contact

A one-time pearler, Sydney Hadley, a reformed alcoholic who had spent long stints in gaol, set up a mission on Sunday Island in 1899.[4][5]

Towards the end of WW2, H. H. J. Coate, who was engaged in a study of Bardi, took over the running of the mission.[6]

Alternative names

  • Djawi.
  • Djau.
  • Chowie.
  • Djaoi.
  • Tohawi.
  • Tohau-i. (an insular toponym referring to the main island of the Buccaneer Archipelago)
  • Ewenu.
  • Ewanji, Ewenyoon, I:wanja.[7]



  1. ^ Tindale 1974, pp. 57–58.
  2. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 84.
  3. ^ Bowern 2016, p. 283.
  4. ^ McGregor 2013, p. 11.
  5. ^ Hunter 1993, p. 44.
  6. ^ McGregor 2013, p. 16.
  7. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 241.


  • "AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia". AIATSIS.
  • "Tindale Tribal Boundaries" (PDF). Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Western Australia. September 2016.
  • Bowern, Claire (2008). "History of research on Bardi and Jawi". In McGregor, William. Encountering Aboriginal languages: studies in the history of Australian linguistics. Pacific Linguistics Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. pp. 59–84. ISBN 978-0-858-83582-5.
  • Bird, W. H. (1910). "Some Remarks on the Grammatical Construction of the Chowie-Language, as Spoken by the Buccaneer Islanders, North-Western Australia". Anthropos. 5 (5): 454–456. JSTOR 40443562.
  • Bird, W. H. (1911). "Ethnographical Notes about the Buccaneer Islanders, North Western Australia". Anthropos. 6 (1): 174–178. JSTOR 40444080.
  • Bird, W. H. (January–April 1915). "A Short Vocabulary of the Chowie-Language of the Buccaneer Islanders (Sunday Islanders),North Western Australia". Anthropos. 10/11 (1/2): 180–186. JSTOR 40442801.
  • Coate, H. H. J. (December 1966). "The Rai and the Third Eye North-West Australian Beliefs". Oceania. 37 (2): 93–123. JSTOR 40329629.
  • Elkin, A. P. (March 1932). "Social Organization in the Kimberley Division, North-Western Australia". Oceania. 2 (3): 296–333. JSTOR 27976150.
  • Elkin, A. P. (1935). "Initiation in the Bard tribe". Journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales. 69: 190–208.
  • Hunter, Ernest (1993). Aboriginal Health and History: Power and Prejudice in Remote Australia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-44760-7.
  • McGregor, William B. (2013). The Languages of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-39602-3.
  • Petri, Helmut. (October 1939). "Mythische Heroen und Urzeitlegende im nördlichen Dampierland, Nordwest-Australien". Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde. Frobenius Institute. 1 (5): 217–240. JSTOR 40341058.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Djaui (WA)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.
  • Worms, E. A. (December 1950). "Djamar, the Creator. A Myth of the Bād (West Kimberley, Australia)". Anthropos. 45 (4/6.): 641–658. JSTOR 40449333.
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