The Kuniya and Liru Story, from the time of Tjukurpa

The traditional people in the region surrounding YularaUluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), are known as Anangu. Their presence in the area dates back as far as 30,000 years, with some evidence to suggest even longer.

Tjukurpa: a period when ancestral beings created the world

Tjukurpa stories (or creation stories) provide layers of knowledge that are passed through generations of Anangu. These provide understanding that relate to all aspects of traditional life such as landcare and societal cohesion.

Information with thanks to Parks Australia.

Wherever you walk around Mutitjulu Waterhole, you are surrounded by the presence of two ancestral beings – Kuniya, the woma python, and Liru, the venomous snake.

What does Kuniya and Liru mean?

Kuniya is the traditional word for a species of non-venomos snake in Australia, the Woma Python.

Liru is the traditional word for a species of venomous snake, the King Brown Snake.

The Kuniya and Liru Story (Tjukurpa or Creation Story)

The Kuniya and Liru story occurs on different sides of Uluru, but their deadly battle took place near Mutitjulu Waterhole.

A Kuniya woman came from far away in the east to hatch her children at Uluru. She carried her eggs strung around her neck like a necklace and brought them to rest at Kuniya Piti on Uluru’s north-east corner. There she left the eggs on the ground.

Kuniya camped at Taputji and hunted in the nearby sand-hills. As she left and entered her camp, she formed deep grooves in the rock. These grooves are still there.

One day, Kuniya had to draw on all her physical and magical powers to avenge the death of her young nephew, also a Kuniya. He had enraged a group of Liru, or venomous brown snakes, who travelled from the south-west to take revenge on him.

They saw him resting at the base of Uluru and rushed upon him, hurling their spears. Many spears hit the rock face with such force that they pierced it, leaving a series of round holes that are still obvious. The poor Kuniya, outnumbered, dodged what he could but eventually fell dead.

Following Tjukuritja

Tjukuritja (the physical evidence of Tjukurpa) can be found as features in the landscape and parts of Uluru itself.

When news of the young python’s death reached his aunt on the other side of Uluru, she was overcome with grief and anger. She raced along the curves of the rock to Mutitjulu Waterhole, where she confronted one of the Liru warriors, who mocked her grief and rage.

Kuniya began a dance of immense power and magic. As she moved towards the Liru warrior she scooped up sand and rubbed it over her body. Her rage was so great that it spread like a poison, saturating the area at that time.

In a fearsome dance she took up her Wana, or digging stick, and struck the head of the Liru. But her anger was now beyond restraint, and she hit him again across the head.

He fell dead, dropping his shield near Mutitjulu Waterhole, where Kuniya herself remains as a sinuous black line on the eastern wall. The blows she struck are two deep cracks on the western wall, and the Liru’s shield, now a large boulder, lies where it fell.

source: Parks Australia

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