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Naomi Kantjuriny
Pigmented ink on Saunders Waterford paper
each 57 x 77 cm; 87.5 x 137 cm (diptych)
Tjala Arts


Mamu are mainly harmful, dangerous spirit forces, evil spirits, monsters or an illness. They come in different forms and with varying powers. They can also be ‘good’ sprits helping and looking after people and children. The bad Mamu are known to bite people and suck out their blood. Ngangkari (traditional healers) are trained to release the mamu from sick people and help people find their spirit taken by the mamu. They are careful when working with a mamu illness. When the measles infected the Aṉangu back in the 1970’s its was considered a mamu.The mamu spirit is a night-dwelling demon attacking at night. They try to foil the souls of the lonely dead in their attempts to capture those of the living and guide the snowy-haired childish spirits, who are always looking for earthly mothers. The mamu is especially feared as it is always on the look out for the kurunpa (spirits) of children who have left their sleeping bodies, heedless of the dangers and go frolicking among the gum trees. If caught, the child spirit is eaten. The mamu is like a cat with a mouse, as it does not eat its victim immediately, rather it playing with it until the fun is over. It is believed a child whose spirit has been eaten becomes listless and out of sorts. The family will seek out a Ngangkari to return the child’s spirit.The women say the good mamu will look after you when you are travelling.

Desert Mob is presented annually in Mparntwe | Alice Springs on Arrernte Country.

On behalf of Desart’s staff and art centre members, the Executive Committee humbly and respectfully acknowledge the Arrernte Apmereke Artweye (Traditional Owners) and Kwertengerle (Traditional Managers) of Mparntwe.


Desart respectfully advises Aboriginal readers that this website may contain names, images and artworks of people who have passed away.