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Barbara Pananka Mbitjana / Women’s Bush Tucker

164cm x 67cm Acrylic on Canvas



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SKU: CH24 Category:

Born: c. 1950
Region: Utopia, Central Desert
Community: Wilora, Stirling Station
Language: Anmatyerre or Kaytetye

Barbara (other names: Pananka or Price) is an Anmatyerre artist and is mother to the Numina sisters – six daughters and three sons who all live in Darwin. She grew up in Stirling Station, a cattle station near Tennant Creek where she was schooled by her parents and started painting at a young age, learning from her mum Topsy Thomson Napangardi (deceased).

Barbara worked at the station collecting firewood, ironing clothes and general housekeeping duties for the owners of the station for which she was paid money. Barbara was married to Douglas (deceased) who was the older brother to renowned artists Ada Bird, Gloria, Kathleen and Violet Petyarre.

Barbara moved to Darwin in 2008 to be with her daughters and still lives there today, occasionally going back to Stirling for ceremonies and other family matters.

Aboriginal women have their own ceremonies in which a series of song and dance cycles tell of the Ancestral Beings who walked the earth teaching women’s law and ceremony to isolated groups living throughout the desert. Each tribe has its own set of women ancestors with different stories, designs and dances, but most of the ceremonies have one theme common to all groups – that of food gathering as the most important part of women’s lives. Men also can depict women’s dreamings, but they frown on women painting men’s ceremonies.

The abstract figures they show are the same as those painted by men. For example, a ‘U’ shape represents a person or groups of people sitting down with crossed legs. A larger ‘U’ indicates a windbreak. Concentric circles can represent a campsite, stone, waterhole or fire. The exact imprint of human feet or animal paws depicts tracks of humans, emus, possums, kangaroos etc. Many of the paintings depict the body paint design, which is applied to their upper bodies during the performing of the ceremonies, these often are lines, squares, circles and dots.

This painting depicts a number of sites and travel paths where the women are collecting various bush tuckers including berries and plums.

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