Artwork Description

Acrylic on canvas

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Artist Nyinku Jingo has painted a beautifully detailed illustration of the various bush foods that can be found out here in the central desert. "These bush foods grow all around Uluru and near Kata Tjuta. They mainly grow in the springtime, after big rains, kapi pulka. I like to teach people about bush tucker." In the busy winter and springtime season, Nyinku conducts bush food tours through her business Wira (this is the word used for the curved wooden collecting bowl used when gathering foods on country).

Listed below are the foods Nyinku has painted:

Maku - Maku are most commonly found in the roots of the Acacia kempeana or Witchetty bush. Once dug up the roots are broken open with the sharpened end of the digging stick (nowadays a crowbar) and the delicious grub is prised out and eaten raw or roasted lightly on the hot ashes of the fire.

Arnguli - The flowers of the arnguli are small, creamy-white with four petals.The fruit which follow are olive-like, start off green, then change to purple then black as they ripen. They are flourish after rain and are an important bush food plant for Anangu. The fruit are eaten fresh or reconstituted in water if dry. Sometimes the kernels were roasted then ground to make an edible paste. The paste from the ground kernels was also used as a medical liniment. Another use for the fruit is as a dye.

Unturngu - The bush banana is a slender creeper whose fruits are eaten raw when young, or baked when older.

Tjanmata - The small bulbs of the bush onion are baked in hot sand and ashes then eaten, once the papery covering (nyiri) is removed.

Tjala - Tjala (honey ants) are found deep below the ground in nests beneath the Mulga trees. Women dig for hours to get the sweet honey tasting syrup the ants store in their distended abdomens. Worker ants climb to the surface and up into the flowering trees to collect the nectar, carrying it back to the storage ants hanging upside down in small chambers, unable to move for the weight of their honey filled bellies. The women carefully hook the ants with a stick to bring them to the surface. They are held by the legs and head which are discarded after the honey is enjoyed.

Kaliny-kalinypa - The Honey Grevillea flower is another sweet food, that produces a sticky honey-like substance that coats the flower. The flowers can either be soaked in water to produce a sweet "cordial" like drink, or they can be simply tapped into the palm of the hand to release the substance, and licked up!

Kampurarpa - The bush raisin (or tomato) plant, fruits after good rains and have a piquant spicy taste. They and can be eaten fresh from the bush or after they have dried and dropped to the ground. The dried fruits can also be ground and mixed with a little water to form a 'fruit patty'.

Mangata - The fruit of the Quandong tree (Santalum acuminatum). It is sometimes called bush peaches are sweet and deep red in colour when they are ready for picking in spring. The fruits have a hard seed inside which Anangu women paint beautiful designs on. These are then used to make bracelet and necklaces. Traditionally the kernel inside this seed could be used both medicinally and as a hair conditioner.

Tarulka - The Mulga Apple is actually a combination of animal and plant. It is a wasp gall that forms inside the wood of the Mulga tree (Acacia aneura), growing on the end of its branches. They are eaten raw, or cooked in hot coals. The taste is described as sweet and similar to apples. Th wasp larvae are also eaten.

Anangu say that by painting and talking about bush foods it guarantees that supplies will be plentiful all year round!

Contact Nyinku


Acrylic on canvas

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Nyinku Jingo
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