Aboriginal Cultural Ceremonies
Ceremonies including corroborees and rituals, are held frequently and for many different reasons. These include mythological (Dreamtime) stories outside of initiation and within, secret events at sacred sites, home comings, births and deaths.
In Utopia art one of the most common subjects is Awelye (Anmatyerre spelling or Awely - Alyawarr spelling). Awelye is a word that describes everything to do with a women’s ceremony which includes the body paint designs. Women perform awelye ceremonies to demonstrate respect for their country including Dreamtime stories that belong there and the total well-being and health of their community.
The body paint designs are painted onto the chest, breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. They call this stick ‘typale’. The Aboriginal women sing the songs associated with their awelye as each woman takes her turn to be ‘painted-up’. Every Aboriginal woman can paint her designs on canvas and when one imagines that these designs have been applied to women’s bodies for over 40,000 years (the Australian Aboriginal culture has been dated over 40,000 years old and is known as the world’s oldest living culture) then it may very well be the oldest living art form in the world. Awelye still continues to this day.