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. Meaning of the designs depends on its subject and particular people are responsible for their re-creation and teaching according to the Tjukurpa. 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 and landscape.
This is ngura talitja or sand dune country. Series of curving lines are wind rippled sand dunes, sometimes intercut by the tracks of a Tjukuritja; the burrowings of animals; or the dry bed of a desert creek. By their very nature landforms mark sites related to the Creation Ancestors’ journeys across the country; the ‘dreaming tracks’ followed by countless generations of Anangu since. Dots describe the flowers found in the desert landscape. This walka, or design, is specific to the Cooley Family.