Tjala (Honey Ants)

Charmaine Kulitja Profile & Artworks

Tjala (Honey Ants)

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Paintings depict the Tjukurpa, the Law and stories of Ancestors. Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people) have responsibilities for the protection and teaching of different Tjukurpa and there are strict protocols for the imparting of knowledge. The dotting technique has evolved with the need to adapt sacred expressions of Tjukurpa for public viewing and as a depiction of the desert landscape.

Knowing where, how and when to collect foods involves important work and ritual for women and the sweet tjala (honey ants) are still favourites today. Worker ants create a series of chambers under the ground beneath the mulga trees from which they emerge to gather the nectar of surrounding plants. This is then carried down and stored in the extended bellies of the immobile tjala and fed to the tiny white forms of the young. Women, with their digging sticks and bowls, track the passage ways which lead, sometimes over a meter down, to small caverns in which the tjala hang upside down. They are carefully hooked by the legs with a small twig and pulled to the surface without bursting the precious honey sack which is then quickly consumed, minus the rest of the body. 


Artist : Charmaine Kulitja
Title : Tjala (Honey Ants)
Code : G1803
Size : 30 x 30 cm
Medium : Acrylic on Canvas

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