Designs in this painting represent elements of the Alpar Dreaming Story whereby the dry seeds of alpar play a significant role. In the olden days, the Aboriginal women of Ilkawerne country would collect these seeds, sometimes soak them in water until swollen or cooked in hot coals, and then grind them into a powder that was used for making damper (bread). This practice is not as habitual now due to readymade bread, however the story is continually taught to the younger ones and ceremonies are carried out to ensure its productivity.
The scented leaves of alpar were also collected, soaked in water and used as a medicinal wash. Alternatively they would be ground into a powder and mixed with animal fats for use as an ointment, making this plant a very important food and medicinal source.
Name: Karen Bird
Skin name: Ngale
Language group: Anmatyerre
Lives: Utopia, Central Australia