Illortaminni Tiwi Art

Illortaminni was an early Tiwi artist who specialized in carved and painted Aboriginal sculptures. 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 Illortaminni. It compares examples of his work.


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




Illortaminni carved and painted figures and painted at least one bark painting. His Early sculptures clearly indicate the sex of the figures. his later figures either through mission influence or buyer preference do not. His early figures had arms carved clear of the body and were very well painted. He is also known to have carved birds and sculptures with birds on the head. His bird figures are very similar in carving style to Teeampi Ripijingimpi.

His bark paintings are of traditional skin designs worn at a Pukumani ceremony.

Illortaminni was a traditional elder and believed in his own cultural beliefs. He knew that sculptures would help maintain these beliefs in changing times. His 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.



Illortaminni was born around 1917 and died in 1973. He was one of several artists that worked at Paru carving both for traditional ceremonies and for sale. Other artists working in Paru at the same time include MungatopiDeclan, and Kerinauia. Here he would have been influenced by pioneer carvers like Enraeld, Paddy, and Cardo


Not a lot of information is available about the life of  Illortaminni. if anyone has further information, please contact me. I would love to add it to this article.




Illortaminni is also referred to as Mick Aruni and Illortamini.



Illortaminni Art 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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