Walawuru, Kakalyalya munu Kaanka (Eagle, Cockatoo and Crow)

Delilah Shepherd

Walawuru, Kakalyalya munu Kaanka (Eagle, Cockatoo and Crow)

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Walka is Desert design and inextricably linked with Tjukurpa: the Law and way of life of Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people). The symbols were traditionally used in cave, ground and body paintings, in story telling, teaching and signalling inheritance. Highly experienced craftspeople have grown up making traditional tools and weapons under the instruction of their elders. They now apply this knowledge and express their world through art such as this. Both the dot painting and etching techniques, where walka is burnt into the wood with wire heated on a wood fire, have become Centralian traditions, evolving with the adaptation of traditional design for public display and as a depiction of Tjukurpa.

Walawuru, the Wedge-tailed Eagle was married to Kaanka the Crow. Later he also married Kakalyalya, the White Cockatoo, and Kaanka was extremely envious because Walawuru would return from the hunt to give his favoured wife the choicest meats. Eventually Crow Woman in her jealousy attacked and killed Kakalyalya and Walawuru, on discovering this, flew into a furious rage. That night he made kiti (spinifex resin), melting it on a fire and burnt Kaanka in revenge. The wounded bird escaped into the west with a screech of agony...ka ka ka ka.

One of the sites important to this story can be seen to the south west of Kata Tjuta, a pyramid shaped hill called Pirupakalarintja.


Artist: Delilah Shepherd
Language group: Ngaanyatjarra
Location: Warakurna, Ngaanyatjarra Lands, WA (Gibson Desert)
medium: hot wired etched into plywood
dimensions (mm): 400 x 600mm
weight: 1kg

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