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Tiger Palpatja Painting Nadia Phillips Aboriginal Art Painting

TIGER PALPATJA (1920 - 2012)

Tiger was born around 1920, at a rock hole called Piltati in South Australia. His family lived a traditional nomadic life until he was a teenager, when they settled in Ernabella. He worked as a shearer stock hand and a ngangkari, a traditional healer. Later in life, he moved to Amata where he became known for his ‘punu’ - carved wooden objects such as spears, and in 2004 he took up painting.


Tiger was one of the few Amati elders who had strong ties to his ancestral stories, which he displayed in his paintings. One of his recurring themes was that of the mythical water serpent.


This painting tells the tale of two snake brothers and their wives, who are sisters. The women hunt for food and get tired of the men, who do nothing. They keep the food for themselves, and the men get angry, playing a trick on their wives by turning themselves into a giant mythical water serpent (Wanampi). The women try to catch the snake as it teases them, and one of them pierces its side with her stick. The brothers were angry, and caught their wives and ate them. 

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