This churinga is unusual in being trapezoidal in shape, whereas they are usually rectangular or elliptical. This example is decorated on each side with three sets of shallow-carved concentric circles, showing the red stone beneath the polished, black-painted surface.

Churinga (tjuringa, tjurunga) are usually described in the west as sacred objects, on the rather inaccurate assumption that they represent religious artifacts. Certainly churinga are meant to be very powerful and secret objects; 'tju' means secret or hidden, 'runga' refers to personal ownership. The markings on the surface of the churinga represent the clan's totem, so that the fate of the clan is closely identified with the churinga themselves. Because of this, churinga are always kept in secure and secret locations. They are often used or 'consulted' in order to secure good luck, for example by rubbing on the body. Churinga often feature in mythological tales. Possessed by the earliest ancestors, they represent the power of an individual, which may be stolen away - always with disastrous consequences. The churinga in the Paget collection are deliberately not illustrated, as to show these objects would be highly inappropriate.
Object details
Type of object: Churinga
Type category: Religious/cult or fetish object
Material: Unspecified paint, Red stone
Width: 19 cm
Height: 13 cm
Depth: 1 cm
Style/Period: Unknown/unspecified
Date range: -
Discovery site: Unknown/unspecified
Personal name: -
Role: -
Culture: Aranda
Record data
Artworld id: 20282
Current accession number: 8
Former accession number: 7
Credit line: -
Recorded by: Peter Evans
Record date: Sat, 15th Mar 2008
Copyright: Copyright© by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA, Norwich, 2002. All Rights reserved