‘Tutini’ (Pukumani Pole) – Tiwi Pole
Catalogue No: 5-10MF
Edition: 5 / 10
Medium: Limited Edition Screenprint / Linocut
Size: 87.5 x 20 cm
Born: c 1964
Language Group: Tiwi
Community: Melville Island
The Pukumani ceremony usually occurs approximately six months after the deceased has been buried, being the culmination of ritual mourning for a deceased person.
“The Tiwi regard the Pukumani as the most important ceremony in a person’s life in the world of the living, and even though the Mobuditi (spirit of one dead) has been released, the person’s existence in the living world is not finished until the completion of the ceremony. To the Tiwi the entire focus of the ceremony is on the person now in the grave. This attitude results in the consistent variations in cast and script”. Jane Goodale, ‘Tiwi Wives’, University of Washington Press, C.1971
Prior to the ceremony and after the burial, family commission in-laws of the deceased to carve and decorate elaborate tutini. These are then placed at the gravesite during a performance of song and dance, and tunga (bark bags) are placed upside down on top of the poles to signify the end of life.
The Pukumani ceremony allows the Tiwi full expression of their grief. It is a public ceremony and provides a forum for artistic expression through song, dance, sculpture and body painting. These sculpturally beautiful ‘artworks’ are left to the elements, returning to the bush from which they are made.
Traditionally Tiwi use bloodwood for tutini, but cured ironwood is the preferred timber for commercial carvings thanks to its durability.
Current practice of carving pukumani poles is an expression of the artist’s cultural heritage through contemporary art. They are created as an artistic form of expression to be viewed and appreciated by a broader public with the intention to maintain and share Tiwi cultural knowledge. Tutini carved with a pronged or forked apex represents the fight between Purukuparli and his brother Taparra the moon man. Diamond and curved shapes are a female embodiment, but each pole represents all and everything that is Tiwi culture.