by THERESA BURAK
Tiwi art - Melville Island
During the ceremonies on the Tiwi Islands, a series of dances called YOI are performed; some are totemic (inherited from the person's Mother) and some serve to act out the narrative of newly composed songs.
Participants in these ceremonies are painted with TURTIYANGINARI, the different natural ochre colours, in varying designs, transforming the dancers and, in some cases, providing protection against recognition by MAPURTITI, the spirits.
These designs can be applied in different ways, one of which is using the PWOJA, a traditional Tiwi ‘comb’ carved with a single row of teeth on one or both ends, usually made using ironwood or bloodwood.
After being dipped in ochre and applied to the body, a straight row of dots is imprinted.
Once completed, these dots are then collectively called YIRRINKIRIPWOJA, meaning body painting.
These significant artistic designs can be applied in different ways and collectively are called JILAMARA.