Contemporary Kuturu (Ceremonial Women's Dance Stick)

Contemporary Kuturu (Ceremonial Women's Dance Stick)

‘Minymaku nyangatja, minymaku inmaku ka pika pungkupai.’

This is for women, for women’s ceremonies and for striking in a fight. Tiku Captain.

The kuturu is made from wanari or mulga wood (Acacia aneura) and is a hefty stick tapered at both ends. Usually plain or ochre coated, it can be painted or decorated with burnt design work. A weapon exclusive to women for settling disputes, it is also used in ceremonies to represent or highlight certain actions of the Tjukuritja or Creation Ancestor that are being reenacted.

As with all the tools and implements, the origins of the kuturu lie in the Tjukurpa or Creation Period. The laws for its manufacture and use are passed on continuously from grandmother to mother, from mother  to daughter. Vested in the women is much of the responsibility for the health and well-being of the community.


Artist: Unknown
Language group: Pitjantjatjarra, Ngaanyatjarra, Yankunytjatjara
Location: Central Western Desert, Australia
Medium: 'wanari' - Desert Mulga, Acacia aneura with hot wire etching.

  • About Maruku Arts

    For over 30 years Maruku has operated as a not-for-profit art and craft corporation, owned and operated by Anangu. Approximately 900 Aboriginal artists belonging to over 20 remote communities across the Central and Western Deserts, make up the collective that is Maruku. Our purpose is to keep culture strong and alive, through art, craft and organic experiences.

    Maruku not only sells art from it’s local community Mutitjulu at Uluru, but also sends staff to remote communities across the NPY regions (Pitjantjajatjarra, Yangkuntjarra, Ngaanyatjarra Lands) of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia, to purchase woodcarvings, and has been doing this since 1984. Maruku’s gallery supports roughly 500 anangu artists (both carvers and painters) who reside in 25 different communities.


    Anangu only work on traditional carvings (punu) if they can envision the final piece present in the raw materials they see on country; the land seemingly presents the artist with the piece.

    Maruku ensures artist time and expenses are remunerated fairly, however the punu (the wood itself) is the purest form of a gift from the carver to the receiver. Punu is a slow growing piece of an Anangu artist’s ancestral lands. Punu is painstakingly sought and willingly given, to enlighten the world to the presence of the Pitjantjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra and Yankunytjara peoples of the central and western deserts.