Last updated

The Tingari (Tingarri) cycle in Australian Aboriginal mythology embodies a vast network of Aboriginal Dreaming (tjukurpa) songlines that traverse the Western Desert region of Australia. Locations and events associated with the Tingari cycle are frequently the subject of Aboriginal Art from the region (Perkins & Fink 2000).


Narratives and itineraries

The Tingari Men were a group of ancestral elders who − in the Dreaming − travelled over vast areas of the Western Desert, performing rituals and creating or "opening up" the country (Perkins & Fink 2000:278) They were usually accompanied by recently initiated novices to whom they provided instruction in the ritual and law of the region (Myers 1986:59-64). The adventures of the Tingari groups are enshrined in numerous song-myth cycles which provide explanations for contemporary customs in Western Desert aboriginal life (Perkins & Fink 2000:278; Berndt 1970:222-223; Berndt & Berndt 1996:266-267). Deep knowledge of Tingari business is restricted to men possessing appropriate levels of seniority in Western Desert society, but many stories have "public versions" which do not disclose secret/sacred knowledge.

In the Tingari heartland of the Gibson Desert, three major journey-lines can be discerned (Myers 1986:62). One begins west of Jupiter Well and eventually runs due east, concluding south-east of Lake Mackay; another heads south-west from near Kintore for some 200 km, and then doubles back to end at Lake Macdonald; the third runs from south to north through Docker River and Kintore. At the many sites that make up these songlines, groups of Tingari people held ceremonies, experienced adversity and had adventures, in the course of which they either created or became the physical features of the sites involved. In mythological terms, Tingari exploits often add to or modify features at pre-existing sites, or revive and extend more ancient local Dreamings (Kimber 2000:273). The oral narratives that describe these adventures stretch to thousands of verses, and provide countless topographical details that would assist nomadic bands to navigate and survive in the arid landscape (Petri 1970:263).

In Pintupi narratives, the male Tingari groups are usually followed by groups of women who may be accompanied by children. The more public women's stories usually revolve around the gathering and preparation of bush foods (Perkins & Fink 2000:281-290). However, other narratives relate to a group of powerful ancestor women – the Kanaputa (Ganabuda) or Mungamunga (Berndt 1972:208; Poirier 2005:130) – who often travelled in a Tingari ritual group (Myers 1976:188). These Tingari women were sometimes accompanied by young girls, whom they provided with ritual education (Berndt 1970:225), and were often followed by (or following) groups of Tingari men. Many of the Kukatja stories collected at Balgo relate to the Kanaputa (Berndt 1970:222; Poirier 2005:77-79).


Tingari-related visual designs, such as those used in ceremonial body and ground paintings, are usually considered "dear" rather than "dangerous" by traditional owners, which may explain why so many artists have concentrated on the Tingari in paintings produced for public display and sale by Papunya Tula (Myers 1989:179). Even so, the more esoteric elements of these designs were usually modified or omitted by the artists (Myers 2002:64-66), and this is particularly true of recent works. "Classical" Tingari cycle paintings typically contain a network of roundels (concentric circles, which often signify sites) interlinked by lines (which often indicate travel) (Bardon 1991:66, 85-86, 94, 128; Perkins & Fink 2000:180-181, 229).

See also

Related Research Articles

Kintore is a remote settlement in the Kintore Range of the Northern Territory of Australia about 530 km (330 mi) west of Alice Springs and 40 km (25 mi) from the border with Western Australia. It is also known as Walungurru, Walangkura, and Walangura.

Naata Nungurrayi is an Australian Aboriginal artist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Papunya</span> Town in the Northern Territory, Australia

Papunya is a small Indigenous Australian community roughly 240 kilometres (150 mi) northwest of Alice Springs (Mparntwe) in the Northern Territory, Australia. It is known as an important centre for Contemporary Indigenous Australian art, in particular the style created by the Papunya Tula artists in the 1970s, referred to colloquially as dot painting. Its population in 2016 was 404.

The Pintupi are an Australian Aboriginal group who are part of the Western Desert cultural group and whose traditional land is in the area west of Lake Macdonald and Lake Mackay in Western Australia. These people moved into the Aboriginal communities of Papunya and Haasts Bluff in the west of the Northern Territory in the 1940s–1980s. The last Pintupi to leave their traditional lifestyle in the desert, in 1984, are a group known as the Pintupi Nine, also sometimes called the "lost tribe".

Papunya Tula, registered as Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, is an artist cooperative formed in 1972 in Papunya, Northern Territory, owned and operated by Aboriginal people from the Western Desert of Australia. The group is known for its innovative work with the Western Desert Art Movement, popularly referred to as "dot painting". Credited with bringing contemporary Aboriginal art to world attention, its artists inspired many other Australian Aboriginal artists and styles.

Anatjari Tjakamarra (1938–1992) was a Central Australian Aboriginal artist who was part of the Papunya Tula art movement. He was born in the area of Kulkuta in Pintupi country. Tjakamarra was a well-respected indigenous ritual leader and leading figure in Aboriginal art. His work is featured in major metropolitan museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, was one of the most important painters to emerge from the Western Desert.

Timmy Payungka was an Aboriginal Australian artist, a Pintupi man who worked at the Papunya Tula school of painting. He was born at Parayirpilynga, near Wilkinkarra in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Makinti Napanangka</span> Indigenous Australian artist from the Western Desert region (c. 1930 – 2011)

Makinti Napanangka was a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous Australian artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She was referred to posthumously as Kumentje. The term Kumentje was used instead of her personal name as it is customary among many indigenous communities not to refer to deceased people by their original given names for some time after their deaths. She lived in the communities of Haasts Bluff, Papunya, and later at Kintore, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) north-east of the Lake MacDonald region where she was born, on the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Tjunkiya Napaltjarri was a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She is the sister of artist Wintjiya Napaltjarri.

Wintjiya Napaltjarri, and also known as Wintjia Napaltjarri No. 1, is a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She is the sister of artist Tjunkiya Napaltjarri; both were wives of Toba Tjakamarra, with whom Wintjiya had five children.

Takariya Napaltjarri is an Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She has painted with Papunya Tula artists' cooperative. First exhibited in 1996, her work is held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Linda Yunkata Syddick Napaltjarri is a Pintupi- and Pitjantjatjara- speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Her father was killed when she was young; her mother later married Shorty Lungkarta Tjungarrayi, an artist whose work was a significant influence on Linda Syddick's painting.

Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri is a Walpiri-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. Ngoia Pollard married Jack Tjampitjinpa, who became an artist working with the Papunya Tula company, and they had five children.

The Honey Ant Dreaming was a mural painted in early 1971 from June to August by Pintupi tribesmen on the outer wall of the school where Geoffrey Bardon taught in Papunya, Northern Territory, Australia. The principal artist was Kaapa Tjampitjinpa who had the assistance of Billy Stockman and Long Jack Tjakamarra. In exchange, the tribesmen received paint from Bardon. This event marked a major turning point in the history of Australian Aboriginal art, and was particularly important in helping launch the Western Desert Art Movement.

Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa was a contemporary Indigenous Australian artist of Anmatyerre, Warlpiri and Arrernte heritage. One of the earliest and most significant artists at Papunya in Australia's Northern Territory in the early 1970s, he was a founding member and inaugural chairman of the Papunya Tula artists company, and pivotal to the establishment of modern Indigenous Australian painting.

Thomas Tjapaltjarri is an Australian Aboriginal artist. He and his brothers Warlimpirrnga and Walala have become well known as the Tjapaltjarri Brothers. Tjapaltjarri and his family became known as the last group of Aborigines to come into contact with modern, European society. They came out of the desert in 1984, and became known as "the last nomads".

Freddy West Tjakamarra was an Australian Aboriginal artist. He was a leader of the Pintupi people during their return to traditional lands in the 1980s. He was one of the founders of the Kiwirrkurra settlement in 1983. As a painter, West was part of the Western Desert movement, and was one of the first painters of the Papunya Tula school.

Pinta Pinta Tjapanangka was an Australian Aboriginal artist. He was one of the first members of the Papunya Tula art movement. He is a well-known painter of Western Desert art. He belonged to the Pintupi community, and painted stories from the Pintupi Dreaming (Tingari). He painted mythological events that happened around his homeland, including around Winparrku, Lake Macdonald and Lake Mackay.

Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungarrayi was a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous Australian artist. He was born at Iltuturunga, south-west of Lake Macdonald, in the Western Desert, close to the border of Western Australia and the Northern Terriitory. In 1963, together with his family he moved to Papunya in the Northern Territory. Tjungarrayi was one of the first group of artists painting in the Papunya Tula cooperative from its beginnings in 1971. His wife was Ningura Napurrla, another Papunya Tula artist. He was a custodian of Pintupi sacred ceremonies and sites.