CHURINGA: WAVY PARALLEL LINES LINKING CONCENTRIC CIRCLES REPRESENTING WATERHOLES

MS 4467
MS Short Title CHURINGA: WAVY PARALLEL LINES LINKING CONCENTRIC CIRCLES REPRESENTING WATERHOLES
Text CHURINGA: WAVY PARALLEL LINES LINKING CONCENTRIC CIRCLES REPRESENTING WATERHOLES, TOTEM CENTRES OR CAMP SITES IN THE ABORIGINE'S MYTHOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE
Description MS in Aborigine tribal language on grey stone, Northern Territories, Australia, very early, before 1800, 1 boatshaped churinga, 37x12x1 cm, patterns incised with a incisor tooth of an opossum, and rubbed with grease and red ochre during the ceremonies, the ochre still sticks in the groves.
Provenance 1. Presented to Ursula Padman, Leprosy control officer and honorary Tribal Elder 1930's-1940's; 2. Sam Fogg Rare Books Ltd., London.
Commentary There is no certain way to date the old churingas that are from the pre-contact period (before 1780). They can be as old as the Aboriginal culture, 40-50,000 years. With the earliest rockpaintings and carvings, the cylcons and churingas represent the oldest form of communication and art, still present, and they represent the oldest religion still observed. The aborigine owner's belief is that his kuruna or spirit is intimately associated with his churinga. Even today the whole of Australia is dotted over with Knanikillas, or local totem centres. Each of these has a sacred storehouse for the tribe's and individuals' churingas, guarded by the inkata. Women and men that had not passed through the ceremonies of circumcision and subincision, were not allowed to approach the storehouse, Pertalchera. The aborigine people of the Central desert read the patterns on the churinga as representations of nature, a kind of map or site. The icons are not literally figurative. Rather they can be interpreted as a whole range of natural phenomena that are stereotyped in their typical form, so they become an artistic system. Each churinga had its own personal "name", which had to be sung whenever it was being inspected or handled. The name was one of the verses from the sacred song cycle related to the actual totem centre.
Place of origin Central Australia
Dates Before 1800

Location