Awelye or Women's ceremonial body paint by Kathleen Petyarre Acrylic on Linen, Year 2004
The title Awelye is the Aboriginal word used for women's ceremonial body paint. The designs have been applied to the upper body and thighs of people prior to ceremonies, a practice going back more than 40,000 years. Firstly the dancers covered their bodies with animal fat and after applied ochre, charcoal and ash for the design. Kathleen and her sisters painted their body for ceremonies all their life. Later, in the midst of their painting career in the mid nineties I watched Kathleen together with sisters Ada and Gloria, all of them having painted their bodies, performing dances at the Aboriginal Art Centre in Adelaide.
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