The Tingari are Aboriginal ancestors that can be traced back to the beginning of Creation when Dreaming and its various laws first came into being. These ancestral figures are said to have crossed the land and created features of its landscape as they did so, leading to the formation of the natural world.Theirs is a story of Creation, especially in the Western Desert region. According to legend, all Australian Aboriginal people descend from the Tingari, so it's little surprise that Tingari motives and other features play a prominent role in Aboriginal artwork today.


Tingari and the Pintupi language


There is plenty of reference to the Tingari in the Western Desert, especially in the area where the Pintupi language is prominent. The tribal elders in these areas will frequently mention these ancestors as they remind other tribal members of the traditions, social structures and laws of the time. The Aboriginals believe that the Tingari ancestors are responsible for the shape and features of the land as well as the animals and plants that populate the area.


Caring for sacred sites


Each sacred Tingari site has a traditional custodian, split into different groups. Some oversee the site and ensure it is well maintained while also paying attention to ceremonial necessities. Other managers organise the ceremonies and bring in people to ensure everyone follows the customs. These custodial roles are critical and handed down from one lineage to another based on family groupage. These "skin" groups are very closely aligned and make sure that they adhere to all the strong laws and beliefs.


Tingari through song


First Nation People enshrined these beliefs and laws in narrative songs that the Pintupi people would frequently perform. Younger individuals, in particular, are encouraged to learn these songs and to pay close attention to the knowledge that they impart. The elders ensure that they successfully initiate young people within each tribe, so the youngsters learn the importance of certain traditions and customs.


The importance of Dreaming stories


Dreaming stories also form an essential part of life among the Pintupi people, and many of the stories are not just theoretical but practical as well. They may include information about animals, the lands, the soil fertility and the type of vegetation that can thrive in various conditions. Such knowledge can therefore help nomadic tribes to exist in what can often be a very harsh environment.


Learning more about the Tingari


People from outside these communities can learn a lot about the Tingari and their sacred sites and law by studying the artwork supplied by Pintupi artists. In fact, these paintings may tell non-Aboriginals much more about the Tingari law than any other medium. After all, the indigenous people consider these laws sacred and secret and are unlikely to directly elaborate on any of the details with someone from outside the tribe. This makes the paintings even more valuable for people from Western cultures.

Interpreting the artwork


You will often see evidence of sacred sites within a particular artwork and wavy lines that indicate travel directions. You could say that these represent a map of the homelands and the routes the ancestors would take as their convoy travelled from one symbolic location to another. Modern-day artists often refer to cave designs and sand paintings that may have been early examples of the Tingari story in graphic form. You can often characterise this Tingari artwork by its abstract geometric structure, representing the legendary founders' overriding power and energy.


Art in the absence of language


The Tingari artwork is just one example of life as shown through Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. Remember, the Aboriginals do not have a formal written language, so if they want to convey stories about their culture and history, they often do it through artwork instead. This is why indigenous art is the perfect medium to get more of an idea of the stories, beliefs, events, lands and ancestors beloved by the Aboriginal people.


A portrait of early life


Tingari artwork portrays life at the time of the Creation, as seen by Aboriginal people. It's an integral part of Aboriginal Dreaming and depicts their inheritance and identity. And their message can be seen in not just canvas paintings but also through their storytelling, song and dance routines and ceremonial body painting. They use these media to help bring Dreaming to reality, which they believe is of the utmost importance in linking Creation to the current day.


Live a timeless life


The Aboriginals do not refer to "Dreaming" as something from the past. Indeed, they don't refer to it in terms of chronological time at all. To them, the notion of time is irrelevant, and the Dreaming is ever present, rather than something that is a long way away or far in the past. It represents the environment within which they live and places a greater emphasis on the significance of each place.In the Dreaming philosophy, the ancestral spirits came to live on earth. As they did so, they created the entire topography, with mountains, rivers and plains populated with animals and plants. The spirits defined the relationship between the Aboriginal people and this land. At the end of the Creation, the ancestors remained in many of those sacred sites. This is why the Aboriginals emphasise ceremony and tradition, as they worship the ancestors who may now be present in the form of trees, waterholes or rocks.


Tingari artwork at Wentworth Galleries


If you're fascinated by the tradition of the Tingari and their relevance to Creation in the eyes of the Aboriginals, you may want to check out our extensive collection of artwork at Wentworth Galleries. We celebrate the paintings of Aboriginal artists who wish to share their stories with the broader world.Our Sydney art gallery showcases the work of some of Australia's best artists. You can buy one of these pieces, or you can rent a painting for a limited time if you prefer. Are you looking to buy some art as an investment — perhaps a one-of-a-kind piece of Aboriginal Dreaming artwork? We believe that you can get some very solid returns through careful selection, and we’ll be delighted to advise you in this area. If you have any artwork of your own and would like a valuation, we can also help. We are standing by with advice on collecting, framing, sales or restoration as well.


Pick up your Tingari painting today

Revolutionise the look and feel of your place with one of these Aboriginal Dreaming paintings. And to make sure that you are delighted by the quality of work from these talented artists, we offer you a free office or home trial and a two-year exchange guarantee. With this guarantee, you can exchange your artwork for another within that time or qualify for a full purchase credit. Get in touch with us anytime — we will be happy to answer your questions.

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