Tjulpu Kutjara (Two Birds)
Tjulpu Kutjara (Two Birds)
Tjulpu Kutjara (Two Birds)
Tjulpu Kutjara (Two Birds)
Tjulpu Kutjara (Two Birds)

Angkalia Nelson

Tjulpu Kutjara (Two Birds)

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Contemporary carvings by Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people) are known as punu, hand carved and decorated with walka, patterns burnt into the wood with wire heated on a wood fire. The animals all have their associations with the Tjukurpa, the stories of the Creation Ancestors and the activities which shaped the land, the people and their Law. Many of the details of Tjukurpa are restricted to senior custodians and it is not always possible to describe the stories involved.

Although the majority of animals carved on the lands are lizards some Anangu have increasingly specialised in stylised tjulpu tjuta or birds. All desert inhabitants, they range in size and species from the tiniest nyii-nyii or zebra finch to large walawuru, the wedge tail eagle. Other desert birds include: 

kaanka, or crow, named for the sound of its call: ‘kaan kaan kaan’; pititjaku-pititjaku or pied butcherbird, a black and white bird native to Australia which has a beautifully melodic voice; kurparu or Australian magpie, another black and white native song bird; tjintir-tjintirpa  or Willie wagtail, a small, black, white-breasted bird with a long, fanlike tail;and kipara or bush turkey, hunted for its delicious meat.

Angkaliya has used the raw form of the desert wood to create her two birds and their nest.


Artist: Angkalia Nelson
Language Group: Pitjantjatjarra
Location: Pipalyatjarra, APY Lands South Australia
Medium: hot wire etching on carving - 'Murrmurrpa' - Desert Bloodwood, Corymbia opaca
Dimensions (mm): 252 x 146 x 186mm
Weight: 2kg

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