Tjukurpa katutja ngarantja (Tjukurpa above all else).
Tjukurpa (pronounced ‘chook-orr-pa’) is the foundation of Anangu culture. In the same way that a house needs to stand on strong foundations, our way of life stands on Tjukurpa.
The word Tjukurpa has many deep and complex meanings. It is the religious philosophy that links Anangu to the environment and our ancestors.
Tjukurpa stories talk about the beginning of time when ancestral beings first created the world. These stories contain important lessons about the land and how to survive in the desert as well as our rules for appropriate behaviour.
Tjukurpa stories are also used like maps. They tell us where important places are, how to travel from one place to another, and where and when we can find water and food.
The stories are not simple. They represent complex explanations of the origins and structure of the universe and the place and behaviour of all elements in it. The understanding and depth of these stories increases throughout a person’s life.
Tjukurpa is not written down. It is memorised and passed on to the right people like an inheritance.
Tjukurpa law and spirituality
Tjukurpa panya tjamulu, kamilu, mamalu, ngunytjulu nganananya, kurunpangka munu katangka kanyintjaku.
This law was given to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers, our fathers and mothers, to hold onto in our heads and in our hearts.
Like religions elsewhere in the world, Tjukurpa provides answers to many important questions.
When we have a problem, we always look at it through the lens of Tjukurpa. Tjukurpa is our moral compass for daily life and our justice system. It underpins everything Anangu do.
Tjukurpa refers to the past, the present and the future at the same time. The knowledge never changes, it always stays the same.
Kinship and passing down of Tjukurpa
Ceremonies play an important role in passing knowledge to the people and groups who are responsible for maintaining different sections or chapters of Tjukurpa. Knowledge is carefully passed on to people who have either inherited or earned the right to that knowledge.
We remember Tjukurpa stories through inma (songs and ceremonies), stories, dances and art.
Tjukurpa stories are also told through various designs and paintings, such as the dot paintings of the Western Desert. These designs are often sacred, and their use and creation are restricted to specific groups or people.
Tjukurpa is extremely important to Anangu. We are able to share many details with non-Aboriginal people, but the secret, sacred information remains only with senior Anangu and must be protected.