Awelye (Women's Ceremony) for Akatyerre (Desert Raisin) MB050905-Alvira Bird Mpetyane

Acrylic on Canvas
90 x 90cm
Year Painted


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Awelye (Women's Ceremony) for Akatyerre (Desert Raisin) MB050905-Alvira Bird Mpetyane

The linear designs in this painting represent Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs) for the Akatyerre Dreaming story. These designs are painted onto the chest, breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from red and yellow ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. The women sing the songs associated with their Awelye as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'. Awelye ceremonies are performed to demonstrate respect for this story and maintain the existence of the akatyerre plant.

The akatyerre, also known as the desert raisin, wild sultana or bush tomato (Solanum centrale), is probably the most important of all Central Australian plant foods due to its abundance and widespread availability most of the year. Once collected, the Aboriginal people eat the akatyerre raw or grind them into a paste before being consumed. The paste can also be rolled into balls and dried to store during long periods of drought. This practice is not as habitual now but ceremonies relating to its story are.

Women are represented by U shaped symbols, with their dancing sticks and coolamons (carved wooden bowls). Circles represent the site where the women are performing Awelye OR collecting the akatyerre.
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Mbantua Alice Gallery