The bold linear pattern of stripes and curves throughout this painting illustrates the awely (women’s ceremonial body paint designs) for the ancestral dreamtime stories of the Anemangkerr (bush melon or tomato). After smearing their bodies with animal fat, the women of Atnwengerrp trace these designs onto their breasts, arms and thighs’, singing as each woman takes her turn to be ‘painted-up’. Their songs relate to the dreamtime stories of ancestral travel, dance and other totemic plants, animals and natural forces. Awely demonstrates respect for the land. In performing these ceremonies they ensure well-being and happiness within their communities.
The small circular designs in this painting represent the Anemangkerr, a small globular fruit similar to a small melon. This fruit is high in Vitamin C and is favoured for its exceptional keeping qualities. The ancestral dreamtime stories associated with the Anemangkerr belongs to Atnwengerrp and Irrwelty Country. This ancient red country lies in the heartland of Alyawarr land, northeast of Alice Springs, in Central Australia.
Artist: Minnie Pwerle
Skin name: Pwerle (also spelled Apwerl, Pwerl, Pula)
Language group: Alyawarr
Country: Atnwengerrp and Irrwelty
Area: Utopia Region, Central Australia
Born: c. 1922