Skip to content


An image of Tutini (Pukumani grave posts) by Laurie Nelson Mungatopi, Bob One Apuatimi, Jack Yarunga, Don Burakmadjua, Charlie Quiet Kwangdini, Unknown

Laurie Nelson Mungatopi

(Australia circa 1923 – )

Language group
Tiwi, North region

Bob One Apuatimi

(Australia 1925 – 18 Apr 1976)

Language group
Tiwi, North region

Jack Yarunga

(Australia circa 1910 – 1973)

Language group
Tiwi, North region

Don Burakmadjua

(Australia 1925 – 1995)

Language group
Tiwi, North region

Charlie Quiet Kwangdini

(Australia circa 1905 – )

Language group
Tiwi, North region


(Australia  – )

Tutini (Pukumani grave posts)
Place of origin
Melville IslandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Media category
Materials used
natural pigments on iron wood

274 x 250.0 x 250 cm overall:

a - Tutini; 198.1 x 24.1 cm

b - Tutini; 243.8 x 28 cm

c - Tutini; 200.6 x 21.6 cm

d - Tutini; 210.8 x 27.9 cm

e - Tutini; 274.2 x 30.5 cm

f - Tutini; 185.4 x 21.6 cm

g - Tutini; 221 x 25.4 cm

h - Tutini; 147.3 x 29.2 cm

i - Tutini; 165.1 x 29.2 cm

j - Tutini; 214.6 x 31.8 cm

k - Tutini; 149.8 x 26.8 cm

l - Tutini; 238.8 x 24.1 cm

m - Tutini; 167.7 x 21.6 cm

n - Tutini; 232.4 x 24.1 cm

o - Tutini; 185.4 x 24.7 cm

p - Tutini; 170.2 x 30.5 cm

q - Tutini; 254 x 33 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
Accession number
©The Artists' Estates, courtesy Jilamara Arts. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Not on display
Further information

In 1958 senior Tiwi artists at Milikapiti (Snake Bay) on Melville Island were commissioned by Dr Stuart Scougall and then Gallery deputy director Tony Tuckson to create 17 Tutuni or Pukumani graveposts. The first major commission of Aboriginal work by a gallery of modern art, this group of Tutuni broke new ground, establishing Aboriginal culture within an art context.

Heralding a shift in tradition, the artists made the conscious choice to produce Tutuni for an outside audience. They employed traditional techniques of carving and painting, but made the sculptures from ironwood, rather than the traditional blackwood, which is reserved for ceremonies.

The Pukumani ceremony is unique to Tiwi. It is a 'final goodbye', with singing and dancing accompanying the placement of Tutuni around the gravesite. The first Pukumani ceremony was led by Tiwi ancestor Purukuparli for his baby, Jinani, who was the first person to die; as a result, today all Tiwi must follow his fate.

Bibliography (28)

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 142 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, (illus.).

Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 32-33 (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Tribal Galleries', pg. 42-47, Sydney, 1984, 42-43 (colour illus), 45.

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), Exhibitions events - Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Feb 1999-Mar 1999, 10 (colour illus.).

Mark Fenech, Art education, 'City Museums & Park Museums', pg. 46-51, Virginia, Jan 2003, 49 (illus.).

Jennifer Hoff, The Oxford companion to Aboriginal art and culture, '7.6 Tiwi graveposts', pg. 174-179, South Melbourne, 2000, 175 (illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art', pg. 208-241, Sydney, 1999, 209 (colour illus.).

Susan McCulloch, Alan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, The new McCulloch's encyclopedia of Australian art, ‘Australian Aboriginal art and artists: Exhibitions’, pg. 16-21, Carlton, 2006, 19 (colour illus.), 74. Group photograph of 'Seventeen ceremonial poles from the Pukamani ceremony' 1958. Commissioned by T. Tuckson and gift of S. Scougall.

Ewen McDonald, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 96, 97 (colour illus.).

John McDonald, Art and Australia (Vol. 40, No. 3), 'Pumpuni Jilamara: Tiwi art: creative freedom and cosmic wonder', pg. 394-395, St Leonards, Mar 2003-May 2003, 395 (colour illus.). Review of the exhibition 'Pumpuni Jilamara: Tiwi art', held at the AGNSW 2002-2003.

Steven Miller, One sun one moon: Aboriginal art in Australia, ‘Cultural capital: Key moments in the collecting of Australian Indigenous art’, pg. 29-41, Sydney, 2007, 32-33 (illus.).

Hal Missingham (Director), Purchases and acquisitions for 1959, Sydney, 1959, 47.

Howard Morphy, The Cambridge companion to Australian Art, 'Coming to terms with Aboriginal art in the 1960s', pg. 153-167, Port Melbourne, 2011, 157, 159, 267, 357, 365. 12.2 (colour illus.), between pg. 156 and 157; 20.1 (illus.), 20.2 (colour illus.), between pg. 252 and 253.

Howard Morphy, Crossing cultures: the Owen and Wager collection of contemporary Aboriginal Australian art at the Hood Museum of Art, ‘Aboriginal Australian Art in America’, pg. 18-31, Hanover, 2012, 23 (colour illus.). 2.4

John Mundine and Renée Porter, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Aboriginal and Melanesian', pg. 57-71, Sydney, 1988, 58-59 (colour illus.), 60, 64.

Margo Neale, Yiribana, Sydney, 1994, 11, 12 (colour illus.).

Hetti Perkins and Ken Watson, A material thing - objects from the collection, Sydney, 1999, 8 (colour illus.).

Hetti Perkins, Art and Australia (Vol. 47, No. 1), 'A privileged moment: Retracing Tony Tuckson's pioneering journey north', pg. 108-117, Paddington, 2009, 110 (colour illus.), 111, 112, 117. NOTE: Hetti Perkins interviewing Margaret Tuckson; Page 110 is photograph of Harry Turnball installing Pukumani grave posts at the Gallery, Page 113-116 are photographs documenting processes in their creation.

Hetti Perkins, Art + soul: a journey into the world of Aboriginal art, 'Dreams + nightmares', pg. 88-153, Carlton, 2010, 116, 118-119 (colour illus.), 280.

Hetti Perkins and Ken Watson, Aboriginal art collections: highlights from Australia's public museums and galleries, 'Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney', pg. 40-45, St Leonards, 2001, 40 (colour illus.). plate no. 21

Zoë Ross (Editor), Eyewitness travel guides: Australia, 'Botanic gardens and the domain', pg. 100-111, London, 1998, 107 (colour illus.). This illustration details all 17 'Pukamani grave posts' in the AGNSW collection; Acc. no.s P1-P17.1959.

Andrew Sayers, Australian art, 'Icon and abstraction 1951-68', pg. 174-195, Oxford, 2001, 192, 193 (illus.). plate no. 111

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'The Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 10-15, Sydney, Jan 1960, 14. General reference

J.A. Tuckson, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Aboriginal grave posts', pg. 32-34, Sydney, Jul 1960, 32, 33 (illus.), 34.

Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 2 (illus.). A1

Ken Watson, Look, 'Pumpuni Jilamara (Good design)', pg. 24-25, Newtown, Mar 2002, 24, 25 (colour illus.).

Judith White, Look, 'Looking back at the AGNSW… when there was only one curator: Daniel Thomas in conversation with Steven Miller' edited, pg. 31-34, Newtown, Dec 2009-Jan 2010, 31, 33 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

Gamarada, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Nov 1996–16 Feb 1997

A material thing - Objects from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Aug 1998–09 Feb 1999

Another Country, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Jul 1999–02 Apr 2000