The Minyma Kutjara Story

Aboriginal art painting

‘This is a special story for Irrunytju. I want to paint the tjukurpa for my country. It is important for Irrunytju’. – Kunytjil Cooper

The Minyma Kutjara ( Two Women) is a significant tjukurpa (creation story) which traces the landscape, travelling from South Australia through the Central Desert to Kaltukatjara (Docker River) in the Northern Territory.

It is one of the most important creation and women’s business stories associated with courtship, pregnancy and childbirth, with many aspects only told in whispers.

Minyma Kutjara is the story of two sisters difficult journey across these vast lands. The older sister was taking her reluctant younger sister to meet their family for the first time, as she had been separated by a big wind when she was a child and raised by another family who she did not want to leave. The two sisters walked for hundreds of kilometres, stopping at rock holes and sacred places to gather food and hunt.

Their journey can be traced through desert landmarks created along their way. As they travelled the older sister taught her little sister tjukurpa in the form of inma (sacred song, dance and storytelling).

At Irrunytju the sisters cut punu (wood) to make a wana (digging stick) and hair belts in preparation for ceremonial women’s business.

At Ultiju Kapi they threw their wana onto the ground creating Wana Wani rock hole.

At Kuliwaratjara, north of Irrunyju, they made a very straight wana which they planted upright in the ground, grinding it down while dancing and singing to create another rock hole.

It was here that the sisters noticed some wati (men) from Kaltukatjara (Docker River) watching them. They got up in a hurry, causing a willy willy (big wind) which chased them to Punti rock hole in the Northern Territory.

Near the end of their journey the little sister got tired and was carried by her big sister. The mountain on the Irrunytju side of Kaltukatjara is called Mana and resembles the shape of the big sister giving the younger sister a piggy back.

This story has been taken from a conversation with Kunytjil Cooper and Mary Knights (former Arts Centre manager) cited in ‘Irrunytju Arts’ catalogue 2006.

Desart logo
Australian government logo
Lotterywest logo