Dorothy Napangardi

Karntakurlangu Jukurrpa (Belonging to Women)

The Story of Mina Mina

Karntakurlangu is one of the most extensive and significant women’s Jukurrpa (Dreaming) belonging to the Warlpiri people of Central Australia. Through initiation into the Jukurrpa knowledge is imparted. Jukurrpa teaches the inseparability of oneself from ones environment that ensures for the Warlpiri people the perpetuation of life.

Its’ rituals and ceremonies, the songs and dances, the icons and stories, convey vital information for not only the maintenance of cultural identity but also for the relationship of all things.

Dancing Up Country – Dancing on Claypans - Mina Mina 1999 © Gallery Gondwana

Left to right: Dorothy Napangardi, Nancy Napanangka, Sarah Napanangka, Mitjili Napanangka and Minnie Napanangka, 1999 © Gallery Gondwana

The Jukurrpa story associated with Karntakurlangu speaks of the creation era when the ancestral women of the Napangardi and Napanangka sub-section groups (aunt / niece relationship, in which knowledge is passed from one generation to another) gathered at Mina Mina to commence the performance of a series of creation ceremonies.

As the women traversed vast tracks of Warlpiri tribal land they performed rituals and ceremonies that sung the natural environment into creation. It is these ceremonies that are still performed to this day for the rejuvenation and wellbeing of both the country and the people. It is through the participation and carrying the responsibility for the continuance of the ceremonies that one’s existence and cultural relationships are maintained.

The site of origin for the Jukurrpa is Mina Mina, located near Lake Mackay north-west of Yuendumu in the Tanami Desert, Northern Territory. lt was here that the women, their bodies painted with the ritualistic designs, began to sing their world into existence. They took up the ceremonial digging sticks (karlangu) that emerged from the ground as a large belt of Desert Oak trees (Allocasuarina decaisneana), some of which still mark the site today. At the completion of the ceremony they then proceeded to JanyinkiYarlkurdu and carried on to the east.

Preparing for Dancing Up Country – Dancing on Claypans - Mina Mina 1999 © Gallery Gondwana

Left to right: Ena Nakamarra, Dorothy Napangardi (behind), Sarah Napanangka, Mitjili Napanangka, Nancy Napanangka and Minnie Napanangka, 1999 © Gallery Gondwana

As they travel across the landscape, they stopped to dance and sing, gather and prepare food, to collect water and produce the traditional objects such as wooden bush bowls (paraja) and bush rope (ngalyipi) from Snake Vine. At Janyinki the women collected Jiinti-parnta (Native Truffle - a variety of white edible fungus) that is found after rain. As it grows the Jinti-parnta forces the earth to crack. The women collect it, squeeze the juices out, before eating it raw. At Yarlkurdu they made ngalyipi a twine that has both ceremonial and utilitarian use. During the initiation ceremonies ritualistic object must be held fast to the young initiates legs and this is done with ngalyipi. It is used to make carrying straps for the wooden bush bowls that are used to carry every thing from bush foods to babies.

At all of the sites where the women stopped they performed ceremonies, singing into creation the natural land formations of the songlines of Karntakurlangu. They continued traveling far to the east, beyond Warlpiri land where they handed over the custodial rights and ceremonies to the Anmatjerre people.

Though painting the stories the artist affirms their connection to the Jukurrpa, to their country
and to all other beings.

The iconography of Warlpiri art comes from the traditional designs of the body paint, ritualistic objects and ground paintings. As such it can be viewed from various perspectives when translated to modern mediums. What remains important is that the image is not dissected or the arrangement of icons reinterpreted.

Karntakurlangu (Yawelyu Body Paint) Ceremony at Mina Mina, 1999 © Gallery Gondwana

Karntakurlangu (Yawelyu Body Paint) Ceremony at Mina Mina, 1999 © Gallery Gondwana

All Text & Images © Gallery Gondwana


01 August - 31 December 2018

The Limited Edition Works of Dorothy Napangardi

In addition to her internationally acclaimed career in paintings, Dorothy also extended her artistic career into the field of etching and print making… which saw her create a stunning series of limited edition prints for print makers including Crown Point Press (Dena Schuckit), Northern Editions…

14 June - 31 December 2018

Honouring Dorothy Napangardi

All of our dancing belongs there… when I paint I think of the old days, as a happy little girl knowing my grand-father’s Dreaming…

01 January 2018 - 31 December 2019

Gallery Gondwana Exhibitions

We are excited to be planning our series of online exhibitions over the next 12 months… after the thought provoking “Climate Change in The Pacific” by Fiji’s leading multi-media artist Rusiate Lali, other exhibitions in the pipeline cover a varied range of topics that include some of our key…

Artworks for sale

Looking to purchase works by this artist but can’t see what you’re looking for? We can source artworks for you.

Contact Us


If you have any specific questions about this artwork please email us at Be sure to include the catalogue number in your email.

Alternative Contact

Gallery Gondwana 
(Est. 1990)

(by appointment only)  ALICE SPRINGS NT 0870 AUSTRALIA 
ABN 75 009 652 046

PO Box 3770, ALICE SPRINGS NT 0871

P: +61 (0)417 274 431 
P: +61 (0)417 757 475 

Gallery Gondwana Fiji
1st Floor, 11 Industrial Road (Cnr Beach Rd),
TIN 12-38001-0-5


P: +679 751 9704 
P: +679 906 8863