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Enraeld Munkara Aboriginal Sculpture

Enraeld Munkara was possibly the most distinguished sculptor among the Tiwi people. He produced very powerful painted sculptures of Purukapali and Bima.

The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal sculpture is by Enraeld Munkara. It Compares examples of his work.

If you have an Enraeld Munkara aboriginal sculpture to sell please contact me. If you just want to know what your Enraeld Munkara sculpture is worth to me please feel free to send me a Jpeg. I would love to see it.


Enraeld Munkara’s work is distinctive. He carved sculptures with arms extend directly from a bulbous head. The legs of his figures run straight down from flared hips. He often leaves a defined negative space between the legs which resembles Pukamani grave posts. His carvings have raw unrefined power to them. He paints them with the same designs as used as skin designs during ceremony.

Due to lack of missionary influence, he is not ashamed to clearly show the sex of the figure. His sculptures are raw but have great clarity.

Munkara sculptures depict a Tiwi Dreamtime story about Purukupali and Bima.

Purukupali was the first man on earth and while he was away hunting his wife Bima was seduced by 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 was the cause for the first Pukumani (burial) ceremony.


Munkara lived at Milikapiti (Snake Bay). He belonged to a group of artists on Melville Island in the 1950s and 1960s whose work was less influenced by the local Mission. He was one of the pioneer sculpture carvers of this area. I have little doubt he carved Tiwi island spears and Pukumani posts for a ceremony before making commercial sculptures. His younger brother Benedict Munkara was also a gifted carver.

Other Pioneer artists working in Snake Bay and Paru at the same time as Enraeld include Mungatopi Mick Aruni and Kerinauia

Very little information is available about the life of Enraeld Munkara. if anyone has further information, please contact me. I would love to add it to this article.

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Enraeld Munkara 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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