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Kun Kun Area

This painting depicts Kun Kun, located in the Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia. Kun Kun is a kapi (water) place, also known as a yinta (permanent water source). It is located east of Kunawarritji Aboriginal Community, or Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route. Kun Kun is an important meeting place, and is the place for kangaroo dreaming. There is a large soak to access underground water here. The artist walked all around this country with his family in pujiman (bush) days.

Name: Pukina Burton

Language: Manyjilyjarra

Community: Punmu


Pukina was a Manyjilyjarra man born in the northern Great Sandy Desert. His home Country was to the north and east of Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33). When Pukina was a young man he lived a nomadic lifestyle, travelling around with all his family. They would traverse large distances annually, visiting specific areas in the dry and wet season depending on the availability of water and the corresponding cycles of plant and animal life on which hunting and gathering bush tucker was reliant. 

Pukina said that everything changed when the government came and picked him up in a motorcar and took him to Jigalong Mission. For many Martu, Jigalong Mission was where their pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) lifestyle came to an end from the late 1940s as they transitioned to a life as stockmen and women working in cattle stations in the Pilbara region and beyond. In the wake of the extreme and prolonged drought of the 1960s, the last of the remaining pujimanpa (desert dwellers) were forced to move to missions like Jigalong, where a supply of food and water was assured. There, many were reunited with family members that had already moved in from the desert.

In later life Pukina relocated to Punmu Aboriginal community with the ‘Return to Country’ movement of the 1980s. Pukina’s paintings depict his ngurra (home Country, camp) in the Kunawarritji area, the Country he walked as a young man; its animals, plants, waterholes and associated Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives. His work has been exhibited widely across Australia.

© the artist / art centre