Traditional Tiwi Culture placed special significance on the Pukumani (funeral) ceremony. Mourners are decorated using natural ochres to disguise themselves from the spirit of the deceased and song and dance is performed to honour the dead. Yirrinkiripwoja (bodypaint) is the source of many contemporary Tiwi designs and performance of the pukumani as ritual helps to reinvigorate the imagery. The shortening of the word to Pwoja – also refers to ‘best’.
These textiles are hand screen printed on hanky linen by a team of four printers, in the Nancy Henry Ripijingimpi screen-printing studio at Milikapiti on the Tiwi Islands. Each meterage is unique and will most likely have one or two bush touches (a little Milikapiti earth, a smudge of ochre etc). These imperfections remind you of where and how these textiles were made.