Uluru Tjukurpa- Phillip Driffen

Price (inc GST)
$1,195.00 inc. GST

92 x 61cm

SKU: 23-958 Category:

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About the Artwork

Mala Tjukurpa (Mala People Story)

The Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) People were conducting their inma (ceremony) at Uluru.

An invitation came from the west, to join another inma. This was not possible, as the ceremony had begun, and could not be stopped. So the people out west created an evil spirit, a huge devil dog called Kurpany to destroy the Mala inma.

The evil spirit travelled toward the Mala People. Luunpa, the Kingfisher Woman, was the first to spot it. She warned them and they did not listen. The evil spirit shape-shifted into many forms. First, the trees, then rocks, and birds, and ultimately, Kurpany, the devil dog. Luunpa screamed out and told the Mala People that an evil spirit was coming, they finally saw it and they became terrified.

The dog attacked and killed many of the mala men, and in great fear and confusion, the remaining mala fled South from Uluru. Kurpany did not attack the mala women. They are still living here at Uluru today. The Kingfisher Woman still keeps watch, and the dog’s footprints are embedded in Uluru.


Wati Lungkata (Blue tongue lizard man)

If you have travelled around Uluru you will recognize these Ancestral Beings and may know some of their stories: for spearing her nephew, one of the deadly Snake Warriors was killed by the Python Woman; and the Rufous Hare Wallaby People were chased away from the Rock in the midst of their ceremonies by an evil spirit in the form of a giant dog.

These are ancestral beings which have helped to form life as Anangu know it. They have left behind them not only the physical features of the landscape at Uluru but detailed stories, traditions and ceremony that have guided people ever since in living well and caring for themselves and their environment. The Anangu custodians of the Rock, descendants of these ancestors, hope that in coming to their place you see a little of their Tjukurpa or culture.

Wati Lungkata (Blue Tongue Lizard Man) is a Tjukurpa (story) about being greedy and dishonest. He travelled from the North and came to Uluru, setting fire to the dry Australian landscape, practising traditional management of the land.

Wati Lungkata was hunting around the southern base of Uluru when he spotted a wounded Kalaya (emu), with a spear pierced in his body. Wati Lungkata knew other hunters had rights to the Kalaya and it would be wrong for him to kill it and eat it. However, he couldn’t stop his greed and killed the Kalaya and began eating it.

The Kalaya hunters: two panpanpalala (bellbird hunters), spotted Wati Lungkata’s fire and asked him if they had seen their wounded animal. Wati Lungkata hid the pieces of the Kalaya behind him, lying to the hunters he said he had seen no trace of the animal. The disappointed hunters walked off in search of their wounded animals’ tracks, upon finding the Kalaya tracks they guessed Wati Lungkata had lied.

As the hunters were off realising the truth, Wati Lungkata gathered what he could carry and raced towards his western facing camp, along the way he kept dropping pieces of meat.

The hunter followed his meat trail droppings and created a huge bonfire at the base of Uluru, underneath Wati Lungkata climbing up to his high cave. The smoke from the fire caused Wati Lungkata to choke, and the top of the fire tendrils burnt his skins, leaving strips of his burned flesh behind as he rolled down the mountain. As he fell and strips of his flesh ripped off, he got smaller and smaller until he hit the ground and became a solitary stone.

The marking on Uluru depicts the stains left behind from Wati Lungkata’s fall, reminding local Anangu what happens if you are greedy and dishonest.


Puli Mankurpa (Uluru, Kata Tjuta & Atila)

Nyangatja puli Ulurunya, nganampa ngura Tjukurpa pulka tjara. Kala painting tjuta palyalpai-amilapai Culture Centre-ngka, minga tjuta nganampa nguraku nintiringkula kulintjaku.’

 ‘This is the rock known as Uluru, our home with its powerful law. We do our paintings at the Culture Centre so tourists can learn about our country, understand and respect it.’

In this painting the artist has painted the three prominent land formations of the central desert region; Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Atila (Mt Conner). They are puli mankurpa (three rocks). The artist has described the land forms, similar to a map from an aerial perspective, demonstrating their intricate knowledge of the land walked by the Ancestors.

From a very young age children learn from their grandparents and parents as they talk and tell their stories using the fine red sand of the desert as a canvas to illustrate and explain their teachings. These stories and images now inspire their art and Anangu are proud to not only make a living for themselves and their families through it but to educate in turn their own children.

Within the traditions of Tjukurpa or Creation Law are coded life survival skills. There is inma (ceremony) associated with each of the stories which are to teach and celebrate; for people to learn where they fit within both the environmental and social systems. Anangu feel strongly about continuing to teach and learn Tjukurpa, and their art is important and vital work. It sustains them economically, physically and culturally. It keeps the stories and traditions alive.


Kuniya (Python Woman)

Minyma Kuniya, a Senior Python Woman, travelled from the south east to bring her eggs back to Uluru where she placed them carefully in a burrow at the eastern end of the Rock.Her fight with Liru, Poisonous Snake Man is one of the foundation tjukurpa law stories of Uluru. This painting depicts Kuniya at Ukada rockhole, feeding five tjitjis (children).

Anangu feel strongly about continuing to teach and learn Tjukurpa and their art is important and vital work. It sustains them economically, physically and culturally. It keeps the stories and traditions alive.



Tali (Sand Dune)

In this painting the artist has depicted tali (sand dunes); the fluid lines tell the story of the land.

Tjanpi (spinifex) and green vegetation such as mangata (desert quondong) grow here. This habitat is very fragile. In the mornings you can see networks of tracks on the sand dunes. Anangu use these markings in the tali to track animals. Generally, small mammals are found in the tali and many protect themselves by burrowing into the sand. Itjaritjari, a marsupial mole that is very rarely sighted, is likely to come to the surface after rain.