Cynthia Burke with Tjanpi

Tjanpi (Native Desert Grass)

Tjanpi means 'native desert grass' in Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages. Tjanpi forms the core of our sculptures and baskets, and is collected by hand by artists across the NPY Lands. The main species of tjanpi used in our artwork are Minarri (Amphipogon sericeus), Grey-beard (Amphipogon sericeus) and Woollybutt (Eragrostis eriopoda).



Raffia is a natural fibre product of raffia palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, and particularly Madagascar. Tjanpi purchases hanks of natural and commercially dyed raffia, which artists use to stitch over and into tjanpi and wrapped wool, building beautiful variations and layers of texture, colour and form into each artwork. 

To produce softer colour variations, natural raffia is often dyed by hand by Tjanpi staff and artists using commercial dyes. Natural raffia is also sometimes hand dyed by artists using other native plants and materials, including Quandong bark, GrassTree, Mistletoe, and Spinifex.


Wipiya (Emu Feathers)

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people of the Central Desert region have always used kaḻaya/karlaya (emu) as a natural resource for food and materials. Tjanpi ethically and sustainably sources emu feathers from a farm in Queensland. The feathers are cleaned and treated before they are sent to us.


Ininti Seeds

Ininti seeds, from the bean tree or bat-wing coral tree (Erythrina Vespertilio), are collected by hand by artists across the NPY Lands. When the season is right, ladies collect the seeds and dry them out. Narrow pieces of wire are heated over a fire, and a hole is burnt though the middle of each individual seed, then left to air out. The seeds are strung together with wool, string or elastic to make beautiful jewellery pieces. The seed comes in different colours, ranging from soft yellows through to warm oranges and deep reds. The bean tree often features in Aboriginal mythology.


Tatu (Quandong Seeds)

Quandong seeds (Santalum acuminatum) are round, textured seeds from a native peach tree. Tjanpi artists often use quandong seeds to make unique jewellery. 


Nyitu (Gum Nuts)

Gum nuts are a hardened seed from the gum tree (Eucalyptus gummifera), usually painted or carved by artists and often mixed with other seeds to make jewellery.


Explore our range of sculptures & baskets

Tjunkaya Tapaya with her sculpture