Matthew Harding, Phyllotaxis 2002-2003, spun mirror-polished stainless steel (Detail)
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Mark PUAUTJIMI | Purukuparli - The Tiwi Warrioi

Australia 1965
Purukuparli - The Tiwi Warrioi 2002
underglaze on earthenware
90 (h) x 40 (w) x 20 (d) cm
Courtesy of Tiwi Design, Bathurst Island, NT
VIEW: Artist's Statement |

Purukuparli was angry. He set out looking for Japarra, taking with him his fighting sticks. When he found his brother and Bima, he started to fight with them. As punishment he turned Bima into a stone curlew that cries out for her dead son every night. He fought his brother with his fighting sticks and Japarra said he could bring Jinani back to life, but only if he could have him for three days to himself. Purukuparli did not want to make this deal with his brother. Now that Jinani was dead, all Tiwi must one day die. Before this, all Tiwi were immortal. Now death had come to the islands. Japarra escaped his brother by turning himself into the moon. On the moon, you can see the scars of the fight between the two brothers.

Purukuparli organized the first Tiwi Pukumani (funeral) for his son. People paint themselves and dance for the dead person. After the ceremony, Purukuparli carried his son into the water and today there is a whirlpool in the place where they went.

You can see the fighting sticks in this sculpture. They are the two sticks in his shoulders. In the sculpture, the spikes around the head are hair. In the old days, Tiwi people did not comb their hair, and so it stood out. They also had big beards. The design on Purukuparli is called Jilamara—body paint designs. Tiwi people paint their bodies for ceremonies. This story is handed down from the first generation—the old generation, to the new.

Mark Virgil Puautjimi, December 2002

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