Summary

This Tjilkamata (short-beaked echidna) punu (carving) was made at Pukatja (Ernabella) Mission, to the south of Uluru, in the early 1960s. The carving has been coated with red ochre and then pricked closely with a sharp instrument to produce dots to represent the quills of an echidna.
Anangu (the term Aboriginal people of the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands use to describe themselves) have been making carved-wood sculptures for many generations. Punu, the Pitjantjatjara term for shrub or tree, is also used to refer to these sculptures and other implements made from wood.
Exactly when and where the animal carvings were first made is uncertain, but the practice was encouraged by the Ernabella Presbyterian Mission in the 1950s, and the prevalence of these carvings increased significantly in Central Australia with the development of tourism at Uluru in the late 1950s. As a precursor to the commercial success of Aboriginal art in the late 1970s, the sale of carved animals to tourists enabled Anangu to develop an independent source of income.

Physical Description

Hardwood punu (carving) of a tjilkamata (short-beaked echidna). Coated all over with red ochre. Back has been pricked closely with a sharp instrument in dots which form lines along back. On the back the raw wood underneath the red ochre has been exposed by pricking giving it a cream colour.

Local Name

Tjilkamata

Significance

The Anangu (Aboriginal people) of the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands are artists from the far northwest region of South Australia. There are seven art centres located in the region: Ninuku Art in Kalka, Tjungu Palya in Nyapari, Tjala Arts in Amata, Ernabella Arts in Ernabella, Kaltjiti Arts and Crafts in Fregon, Mimili Maku in Mimili and Iwantja Arts in Indulkana.
The continued success of Ernabella artists who produce work for their art centre Ernabella Arts is testament to Anangu people's long history of using art as a medium to express and share their unique identity and rich culture. Celebrating 60 years in 2008, Ernabella Arts is Australia's oldest running Indigenous art centre. Ernabella artists have won wide acclaim and work across various media, including painting, sculpture, ceramics and batik.

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