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

Niningka Lewis Profile & Artworks

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. 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.
Minyma munu wati tjuta (senior women and men) have distinct roles to play in the care of family and the wider community: food provision, child rearing; teaching and protection of the harmony of kin and country via the Tjukurpa. Niningka shows a man with his two wives at different times, travelling and resting in a shelter by their fire. The minyma each has her piti, or wooden bowl and her wana or digging stick. Their wati has his spears, ever ready for hunting kuka like the larger game animals, kangaroo and emu. 

Niningka’s walka relates the Tjukurrpa for country west of Uluru known as Pirupakalarintja. Walawuru, the Wedge-tailed Eagle was married to Kaanka the Crow. Later he also married Kakalyalya, the White Cockatoo, and Kaanka was extremely envious. Walawuru would return from the hunt to give his favoured wife the choicest meats and she always gave him the best of the foods that she and Kaanka collected.

Eventually Crow Woman in her jealousy attacked and killed Kakalyalya and Walawuru, on discovering this, flew into a furious rage. That evening he made kiti (spinifex resin), melting it on a fire and, in the middle of the night, burning Kaanka in revenge. The wounded bird escaped into the west with a screech of agony…. kaankaa!


Artist: Niningka Lewis

Language Group: Pitjantjatjara

Location: Mutitjulu, NT

Medium: pyrography and acrylic paint on plywood (unframed)

Dimensions (mm): L150 x W150mm (Set of x 2) combined: L300 x W150mm


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