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 where possible, the details of a carving’s story will be described.
Snakes carved on the lands are usually Kuniya (python), Liru (dangerous snake) or Wanampi (water serpent) and have connections with the Tjukurpa dependent on the artist, their kin and country.
Kuniya and Liru are particularly significant in the Creation Law of Uluru and features of the rock itself were shaped by a battle in which a Wati Kuniya was speared and later avenged by his aunt, who killed one of the warriors in the army of Wati Liru tjuta from the west. The Kuniya woman and her nephew then became Wanampi in one of the waterholes of the rock.
Artist: Elaine James
Language Group: Pitjantjatjarra
Location: Docker River, Northern Territory
Medium: 'Itara' - River Red Gum root, Eucalyptus camaldulensis with hot wire etching.