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'Tingarri men and Initiates at Marabindinya [Marrapintinya]', painted by Anatjari No 1 Tjampitjimpa, 1980


'Tingarri men and Initiates at Marabindinya [Marrapintinya]', painted by Anatjari No 1 Tjampitjimpa, 1980

Object information

Physical description

An unframed painting on on canvas depicting interlinking circles of various sizes, in white, black, brown and mustard.

Educational significance

This is an acrylic painting of Tingarri Men and initiates at Marrapintinya, which is the name of a place and the name given to an object (marrapinti, sometimes called a nosepeg) worn through the pierced septum, usually as ceremonial attire. In this painting, central sets of concentric circles indicate Tingarri instructors, while the horseshoe shapes adjacent to the outer circles show their young initiates. The peripheral background of the painting represents sandhill country. The painting by Anatjari (Yanyatjarri) Tjampitjinpa measures 655 mm x 1,110 mm. This resource includes a map showing sites of significance.

Anatjari (Yanyatjarri) Tjampitjinpa (c1927-99) comes from the Pintupi language group and was born in the country east of Jupiter Well in Western Australia, where he lived until he and his three wives and their children came to Papunya in 1964. In the early 1970s he spent time at Balgo, north-west of present-day Kintore, returning to Papunya in the mid-1970s to paint for Papunya Tula Artists. During the next two decades he consistently painted Tingarri themes in the line-and-circle grid style typical of Pintupi men's art.

The Papunya artists explain that their paintings come from the Dreaming. Like the natural features that mark out the journeys of ancestral beings and the ceremonies that re-enact these journeys, the paintings are both part of the Dreaming and part of the physical world. Papunya artist Benny (Pinny) Tjapaltjarri says, 'The Dreaming is our explanation of how the landforms appeared. A Dreaming character would come along and stay at a place and then turn into a hill or stone. Sometimes his tracks would become a soak or perhaps a rock hole ... People were also created by the Dreaming. You see, we are all born from our mothers ... but we still come from the Dreaming ... the Dreaming came first'.

By painting the designs and stories that represent their particular Dreaming places, the artists assert their rights and obligations as Central and Western Desert landowners, entrusted with the ritual re-enactment of the events that occurred at these sites. As part of these ceremonies, elaborate ground paintings are constructed using a symbolic language of U shapes, concentric circles, journey lines and bird and animal tracks. This unique visual language is also used in designs painted on the skin, and is the same language made familiar by the Papunya painters.

The Western Desert art movement, which began at Papunya, is considered to be the genesis of contemporary Aboriginal art. Geoffrey Bardon, a young art teacher who worked at Papunya School from 1971 to 1972, is often credited as the founder of Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, which was incorporated in 1972. He encouraged the senior men of the various language groups living at Papunya to develop ways of adapting their traditional art to Western materials.

The Australian Government played a crucial role in supporting the painting movement in the years following Bardon's departure from Papunya. In 1973 the Whitlam government formed the Aboriginal Arts Board, with members who were all Indigenous Australians. It fostered Aboriginal arts, literature, theatre, dance, music, painting and craft, and also provided grants for Aboriginal communities to employ managers and to help preserve and sustain Aboriginal culture, arts and crafts. Many large Papunya works were commissioned by the Aboriginal Arts Board during the 1970s as part of its exhibition program in Australia and overseas. This collection was transferred to the National Museum of Australia in 1990.

Object information

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