The Mala 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.

Look at the landscape as we do and know these ancestors are still here. This is the right place to learn about this story because it happened here at this place. Look, take note of what you see. Have a think and take in your surroundings. This is a place of great history, an important place.

What does Mala mean?

Today we know of the Mala as an Australian species of small marsupial called the Rufous Hare-Wallaby. The Mala are currently extinct in the wild in Australia and only survive today in controlled breeding programs.

The Mala Story (Tjukurpa or Creation Story)

In the beginning, the Mala people came from the north and could see this rock (Uluru). They thought it looked like a good place to stay a while and make Inma (ceremony). The Mala men decorated and raised Ngaltawata, the ceremonial pole. The Inma had now begun.

The Mala people began to busily prepare for their ceremonies. The women gathered and prepared food for everyone. They stored Nyuma (seed cakes) in their caves. The men went out hunting. They made fires and fixed their tools and weapons.

In the middle of preparations, two Wintalka men approached from the west. They invited the Mala people to attend their Inma. The Mala people said no, explaining their ceremony had begun and could not be stopped.

Following Tjukuritja

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

The disappointed Wintalka men went back and told their people. Enraged, they created an evil spirit – a huge devil-dog called Kurpany – to destroy the Mala Inma.

As Kurpany travelled towards the Mala people he changed into many forms. He was a Mamu, a ghost. Luunpa, the Kingfisher woman was the first to spot him. She warned the Mala people but they didn’t listen.

Kurpany arrived and attacked and killed some of the men. In great fear and confusion the remaining Mala people fled down into South Australia with Kurpany chasing them. The story continues down south.

These ancestors are still here today. Luunpa still keeps watch, but she is now a large rock. Kurpany’s footprints are imprinted into the rock heading towards the east and south. The men who were killed are still in their cave.

This story teaches that it is important to finish what you start and that you should watch for and listen to warnings of danger.

source: Parks Australia

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