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Cardo Kerinauia Aboriginal Sculpture

Cardo Kerinauia is probably the first Tiwi artist to make figurative sculpture. He carved figures representing Purukapali and Bima which are the Tiwi equal of Adam and Eve.

The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal sculpture is by Cardo Kerinauia. It compares the few known examples of his work.

If you have a Cardo Kerinauia sculpture to sell please contact me. If you want to know what your Cardo Kerinauia sculpture is worth please feel free to send me a Jpeg. I would love to see it.




Cardo Kerinauia sculptures clearly show the sex of the figures. His figures have the arms carved clear of the body. On his completed sculptures he paints the entire carved figure with intense body paint designs. His figures have broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist.

Cardo was a traditional elder and believed in his own cultural beliefs and not those of the missionaries. His sculptures depict a Tiwi Dreamtime story about Purukupali and Bima.

Purukupali was the first man on earth.  While he was away hunting his wife Bima had an affair with Purukapali’s younger brother Tapara. While making love to his brother she left her baby Jinani under a tree. The baby died when the hot sun shifted and the baby was no longer in the shade. When he returned Purukupali in his grief walked into the sea with his dead son and disappeared forever. Tapara, with his face slashed by a stick, became the moon. Bima became a curlew (bird). To the Tiwi people, Purukupali was the first death, This first death leads to the first Pukumani (burial) ceremony.

Other Tiwi sculpture artists working at the same time as Cardo include Enraeld Munkara, Mani Luki Wommatakimmi and Paddy

Cardo Kerinauia Tiyantingalayang Biography 1892 -1964

Cardo is arguably the most famous Tiwi Sculpture artist. He is credited with introducing carved human figures. He carved his first humanistic figures after seeing examples in the 1920’s in Darwin. Cardo worked for a period on the coastal vessels the Geranium and Moresby. He traveled extensively.

In 1954 he along with Aloysius Tipulmeeingi and Alie Miller Mungatopi traveled to Toowoomba. In Toowomba they performed a dance before the Queen. He may have carved for Charles Mountford around this time. By 1963 he was in his seventies and quite frail.

Some of his carvings were a joint effort with Don Hocking Budjameri. Cardo was not just a famous carver but also a  leader, innovator and traditional dancer. He was an important figure at Kulama ceremonies. Cardo had the highest levels of ritual knowledge. He died in July in 1964. His funeral was in 1965.

His daughter Nancy married Albert Crocker who also became a well known Tiwi artist.



Cardo Kerinauia references and further reading

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Cardo Kerinauia Aboriginal Sculpture Images

The following images are not a complete list of the artist’s works but give some idea of his style and variety.

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