Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters)

Angilyiya Tjapiti MITCHELL: artist

Not On Display

About the work

This is a popular Tjukurpa Story (Dreamtime Story) about the constellations of Pleiades and Orion that is common to most Indigenous Australian groups. The different versions of this story depend on where you live and the significance of local Dreaming places. The sisters are said to be Pleiades and the other star Orion is Nyiru or Nyirunya (described as a lusty or bad man). Nyiru is forever chasing the sisters known as the Kungkarrangkalpa women as he wants sex and to marry the eldest sister. The seven sisters travel across the land to escape Nyiru’s unwanted attentions, but he is persistent and always finds them. Eventually sisters fly into the sky to escape Nyiru forming the constellation. As Nyiru is chasing the sisters he tries to catch them by using magic to turn into the most tempting kampurarrpa (bush tomato) for the sisters eat and the most beautiful Yirli (wild fig tree), for them to eat and camp under. However, the sisters are knowledgeable of his magic and too clever for Nyiru who they outwit again and again. They go hungry and run through the night rather than be caught by Nyiru. Every now and again one of the sisters, usually the big sister is caught and raped by Nyiru. It is said he also captures the youngest sister, but with the help of the oldest sister, she escapes back to her sisters who are waiting for her. Angilyiya said the black area is Nyiru's penis throbbing for the sisters. This painting takes place at Kuru Ala, a sacred place for women in Angilyiya's mother's country south of Papulankutja (Blackstone). You can see today the circles at the site in the cave from that Dreamtime story. It’s the young girls turning into young women.
Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters)
Artist/Maker and role
Angilyiya Tjapiti MITCHELL: artist
acrylic on cotton canvas
101 x 151.5 cm
Credit line
Purchased through The Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation: COVID-19 Arts Stimulus Package, 2020
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.