PROVENANCE Executed on Melville Island, Northern Territory
The tiered configuration of this sculpture of Tokwampini the White Pelican atop Purukuparli the major Tiwi ancestor relates to tutini or grave markers used in Tiwi burial ceremonies. In ancestral times, Tokwampini had warned Purukuparli that his son was dead, leading to Purukuparli decreeing that death would be the fate of all Tiwi. Paddy Henry Teeampi was a renowned sculptor who created a number of similar figures: see Birdman, 1975, in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, illustrated in W. Caruana, Aboriginal Art, World of Art Series, Thames and Hudson, London and New York, 2012, plate 74, page 91; and Man and Bird, c.1975, in J. Isaacs, Tiwi: Art, History, Culture, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 2012, p. 215.
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