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 but for this story they have been able to make some details open for sharing.
Kurkati, tinka, milpali or sand goannas, live in the sandhills and plains country and have always been an important source of kuka (meat) for Anangu of this area. They are still hunted in the spring and summer time when they have ended their underground hibernation and can easily be tracked across the red sands.
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.
Artist: Cynthia Burke Language: Ngaanyatjarra Location: Ngaanyatjarra Lands, WA Medium: 'itara' - River red gum root, Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dimensions: 180 x 163 x 71mm