Minyma kutjara – special story for Irrunytju

Size: 40 x 40cm; acrylic on linen canvas

Catalogue Number: 264-20


This id the story of two sisters travelling through Irruntju (Wingellina) to Docker River in the Northern Territory. She tells how they hey stopped at Ilkuwaratjara and cut a wana (digging stick). The punu (wood) was really straight. The little sister was getting homesick, but the big sister said; “No, I am taking you to meet your family.” Along the way they were digging for kuka (meat such as goanna) and Niny (Bilby). They got kuka and they were happy to have a good feed.

Minyma Kutjara (Two women) is one of the most important women’s creation stories of the Western and Southern deserts and a special story for Irrunytju. It tells the story of the difficult journey of two sisters who travelled throughout these vast lands.

This tjukurrpa tells how two sisters travelled north together. The big sister was taking the little sister to meet her family for the first time. She had been raised by others and did not want to leave them. They walked and walked and walked, stopping to do inma (sacred dancing and singing), to hunt and to sleep. The little sister was frightened. She cried and so the big sister carried her on her back and told her stories to placate her.

The places where the sisters travelled and rested can be traced through the desert, their actions often created landmarks, rock-holes and mountain ranges. Near Irrunytju the sisters sat on two hills and made hair belts in preparation for important women’s business. They threw their wana (digging stick) creating the rockhole here. They travelled to an area known as Mantaruta, near Uluru, where they had an encounter with a curious water snake (wanampi). They chased him deep into the ground trying to catch him. They burned their body hair to attract him and hit him on the head and ran away. From afar they threw a traditional head ring (manguri) which also hits him. Then he came and in revenge hit them all over. They continued they journey, bleeding and hurt, but triumphant.

The ‘U’ shapes are the sisters. Next to them are their wana or digging stick. The circles represent rock or water holes where water collects after the rains.