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Ngintaka by Nyanu Watson 91 x 45cm

Ngintaka by Nyanu Watson 91 x 45cm

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This is a painting of Ngintaka pulka- big perentie lizard. Ngintaka is one of our favorite foods. Sometimes we find them out walking on bushtrips, then we cook it on the fire to share. Ngintaka kuka palya.

Ngintaka is also important in many Tjukurpa dreaming stories around Pipalyatjara and Kalka.


Wati Ngintaka Tjukurpa

This is a story about Wati Ngintaka Tjukurpa (perentie lizard man creation story). That Wati Ngintaka (lizard man) heard the clapping sound of a beautiful grinding stone - a traditional tool used for grinding mai (food). He wanted that stone for himself, so he travelled from Arang’nga a long way east towards Wayatina, looking for the stone. He spotted Anangu tjuta (lots of Aboriginal people) at a camp. Some of the people gave him mai (food) in the form of a seed cake, but it was dry and he didn’t like it. Then one lady gave him delicious food and he knew that it had been made with seeds ground on the special grinding stone. He spied the grinding stone and stole it, hiding it in under his tail. When they all went hunting the next day, Wati Ngintaka stayed in camp, saying he had sore feet. Once they were gone, it was safe and he left, stealing the grinding stone. All the people were angry with the Wati Ngintaka and chased him. When they caught him they felt all over his body to see where he was hiding the grinding stone, but couldn’t find it. Wati Ngintaka held up his arms and claimed he didn’t have it, but they saw he was hiding it, wipungka (in his tail). They speared the Wati Ngintaka and retrieved the grinding stone. He passed away at a place called Aran’nga in the Northern Territory. Ngaltutjara (poor thing). 

Nyanu Watson

Nyanu Watson was born in 1951 at a sacred site just outside of Pukatja, a community in South Australia that is also known as Ernabella. During her early years, she worked at the Ernabella Mission where she spun and dyed wool that was used to make rugs. Later in life, she moved to the neighbouring community of Amata, where she worked at the local store and cooked meals for the school children. During the 1970’s and the "Homeland Movement", Nyanu travelled west to the community of Kalka, where she continues to live today.


Alongside her work as an artist, Nyanu is also a skilled crafstwoman. Like many other Anangu women, she has learnt the art of ‘punu’ (wood carving and burning) and ‘tjanpi’ (grass weaving). Like her artwork, these crafts often depict the various animals found in the surrounding Kalka region.


Nyanu is well known for the highly stylised and unique creatures which she paints. Her works involve a combination of brushwork and dotting and often feature ‘ngintaka’ (the perentie lizard), ‘anumara’ (a type of caterpillar), and the ‘kakalyalya’ (pink cockatoo).