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Bush Tucker in Aboriginal Art

March 30, 2016 1 min read

Women Picking Bush Tucker (Wild tomato or Gooseberry)Collecting bush tucker (or bush foods) is still a common practice by the Aboriginal people of Central Australia, although some of the more arduous forms (such as collecting seeds) is not habitual now. 

Often the subject of Aboriginal paintings are Dreamtime stories that are also food sources, such as conkerberries or bush yams. But when speaking of 'bush tucker' in Aboriginal art the significance is placed on the collecting of food, the rituals associated and the community activity.

Bush tucker and bush foods can be depicted in numerous ways in aboriginal paintings. In Australia's Central Desert, they are often illustrated in a natural form, rather than as a symbol, and accompanied by symbols depicting traditional ritual and teaching of the activity. 

The single most common symbol used in bush tucker paintings is the U shape, denoting women or men. 

Bush tucker

Traditional tools used for collecting bush tucker are coolamons (carved wooden bowls), represented symbolically by an oval shape, and digging sticks or 'nulla-nullas' depicted by straight lines. Digging sticks are typically made of hard wood such as Mulga wood and doubled as a club for hunting small animals, and are fashioned with smooth but narrow ends.

There may also be a circle, or concentric circles, in bush tucker paintings representing the site of where the bush tucker is being collected. Other symbols still abound but these are the most common still painted today. 

Bush Tucker and Symbols in Aboriginal Art

For information on individual bush tucker, visit Bush Tucker.


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