Tjukurpa has many deep, complex meanings. Tjukurpa refers to the creation period when ancestral beings created the world. From this came Anangu religious heritage, explaining their existence and guiding daily life. For Anangu, Tjukurpa provides answers to important questions, the rules for behaviour and for living together. It is the law of caring for each other and the land that supports them. Tjukurpa tells of the relationships between people, plants, animals and the physical features of the land. It is the past, present and future – all at the same time.


The Tjukuritja are Anangu ancestors, who can take the form of people, plants or animals. They travelled widely across the land, forming the world as we know it, creating trees rocks, caves, boulders and waterholes. For Anangu, these features are the physical evidence that the events from the creation period really did take place.

The journeys taken by Tjukuritja are called iwara. They are sometimes referred to as songlines. You can follow the stories and songs of certain ancestors along iwara, sometimes for many hundreds of kilometres.

Teaching Tjukurpa

From generation to generation, Anangu share the activities and travels of their ancestral beings through stories, songs, dances and ceremonies.  Knowledge is carefully passed on to young people. Some areas of Tjukurpa are only passed on to people who have inherited the right to that knowledge. With knowledge comes responsibility.