Tjanpi means 'grass' in Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages. Tjanpi forms the core of our sculptures and baskets, and is collected by artists across the NPY lands. The main types of tjanpi used are Minarri (Amphipogon sericeus), Grey-beard (Amphipogon sericeus) and Woollybutt (Eragrostis eriopoda).
Sometimes these grasses are also hand dyed using other plants, including:
Raffia is a 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 tjanpi and wool, holding baskets and sculptures together. From time to time, Tjanpi artists use natural bush dyes to create a beautiful, soft colour pallette.
Wipiya (Emu Feathers)
The Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara peoples 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, from the bean tree or bat-wing coral tree (Erythrina Vespertilio), are collected in the traditional area of 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 then deep rich reds. The bean tree often features in Aboriginal mythology.
Quandong seeds (Santalum acuminatum) are round, textured seeds from a native peach tree. Tjanpi artists often use quandong seeds to make unique jewellery.
Gumnuts 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.