Friday, July 22, 2005

Tiwi, or not Tiwi

The Tiwi people live on Bathurst Island and Melville Island about 60 miles north of Darwin. The islands are Australian territory, separated from the mainland by the Dundas Strait. The Tiwi are considered Australian Aborigines.

The Tiwi have both a long tradition of art and one of the most contemporary art communities - making prints and screenprinting fabric, in addition to carving, primarily ironwood, and painting.

A major ceremony for the Tiwi is the funerary rite called "Pukumani". Poles are carved and painted. They are placed around the ceremonial grave site. Baskets called, "tungas", made from bark, folded and tied on the sides and painted with ceremonial designs, are filled with tributes. When the ceremony is completed, these baskets, are turned upside down on the poles and left for a period of time.

Tiwi carvers carve birds ("tokwampini") and heads ("parukuparli") from ironwood. They are painted with charcoal, white clay and ochres, fixed with flower juices or glue. Some examples of these carvings are presented on the Aboriginals:Art of the First Person Website, http://www.tribalworks.com/aboriginal_art_carvings_gallery.htm

The Tiwi also are prodigious painters and print makers. Doris Gingingara, Reppie Orsto and Susan Wanji Wanji are three artists of note in these media. Susan is actually from Maningrida but is with a Tiwi man and lives and works on the islands. Her work reflects the blending of Maningrida and Tiwi artistic traditions. You will find examples of their work at http://www.tribalworks.com/aboriginal_art_prints.htm.

As one of the very few sources of authentic Australian Aboriginal art in the US, we are proud and privileged to offer the material culture and art of these ingenious and creative Tiwi people from Bathurst Island and Melville Island.

Thank you for reading this blogletter from Aboriginals: Art of the First Person on Florida's Sanibel Island. If you would like to subscribe, you may do so through any RSS feed provider, including blogspot.com, feedburner.com or by clicking on the "sign up" icon, when it appears near the bottom right hand of your page.

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