“This painting is warntarringa – that is the sun in Tiwi. In Tiwi the red ochre is yellow that we burn on the fire – it is the colour of the sun. Murtankala is our creation story – that old lady came up when it was all dark and she made light with yikwani (fire) and it became the sun.” – Dino Wilson
The sun is very important to the Tiwi people. Parlingarri (creation time) it is believed that the whole world was in perpetual darkness and inhabited by yamparriparri (evil spirits). The wulimaka (old lady) Murtankala came up from underground with three children in a tunga (bark bag) on her back. As she moved around on the surface, she created grooves and crevices in the land with her body. Some of these filled with water and created the geographical shapes and channels of the Tiwi Islands. She made yikwani (fire) by rubbing grass and sticks together and lifted it up into the sky with her two hands to create light for her children, one of whom was Purukuparli (the first Tiwi man). This light became warnarringa (the sun). To this day contemporary Jilamara artists still use natural earth pigments from Country to paint. The yellow ochre is burnt on the fire to make the red pigment – the colours of the land, the sun and fire applied to recall the old designs and creations stories of the Tiwi people.