Paintings depict the Tjukurpa, the Law and stories of Ancestors. Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people) have responsibilities for the protection and teaching of different Tjukurpa and there are strict protocols for the imparting of knowledge. Rather than using the dotting technique, bush medicine paintings often depict the leaves of the plants used in medicine with thick brush strokes.
Anangu have a highly sophisticated knowledge of the healing qualities of plants. The gathering of these plants, their use in traditional medicine, and the performance of ceremonies to ensure their abundance are a strong part of the spiritual responsibilities of Aboriginal women. Paintings are one way to sustain this traditional knowledge.
One of the most important bush medicines in desert country is irmangka-irmangka or Scented Emu Bush (Eremophila alternifolia). The leaves are ground and mixed with animal fat or oil to make a rubbing medicine for muscular aches and lung congestion. They can also be steeped in hot water and drunk as a tea or applied to wounds as an antiseptic.