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 heated wire, have become Centralian traditions, evolving with the adaptation of traditional design for public display and as a depiction of Tjukurpa and landscape.
Kungkarangkalpa is the Tjukurpa of the Seven Sisters, concerning a group of women being pursued by a cunning man called Nyiru who attempts to lure them into marriage with him. He disguises himself in countless ways to trick the sisters, and is sometimes also invisible in paintings. In their escape the sisters travelled through a vast amount of Australia. They stopped to camp, build shelters and hunt for food, thus forming many features of the landscape and embedding the knowledge of survival in it. Eventually they fled into the sky where they became the constellation known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. Nyiru still follows them ceaselessly across the night sky as one of the bright stars in the constellation of Orion.
This walka board is a contemporary way of continuing to celebrate, teach and live life through the Tjukurpa. It reflects strong and enduring culture: re-enacting ancestral travels, celebrating the sacred nature of the country and its interrelated plant, animal and human inhabitants. It passes on to you some of the teachings of Tjukurpa.
Artist: Esmerelda Kulitja Language: Pitjantjatjara Location: Docker River, NT medium: Acrylic paint and hot wire etching on plywood. dimensions: 40 x 60cm weight (kg): 1kg