Awelye (also spelt awely or alywarr) is the Anmatyerre and Alyawarr nations term for women’s ceremonies. It also refers to the designs applied to the women’s bodies as part of a ceremony (and can be seen on many incredible canvases produced by talented artists).
The awelye ceremony is performed by Aboriginal women to recall their ancestors and show respect for their country.
The ceremony commences with the women painting each others bodies in designs related to a particular women’s Dreaming story. The designs reveal their relationship to their family group, their social position, ancestors, totemic fauna and tracts of country.
The women paint each other up using coloured ochre which has been ground up and mixed with animal fat. Using a flat stick they apply the ancient design to the chest, shoulders, breasts and thighs of each other.
Once “painted up” the women begin the spiritual dance and song of their ancestors. Dancing can go on for hours.
It is women’s business and never done in the presence of men.
Aboriginal women have been applying body paint for thousands of years, and awelye is considered one of the oldest living art forms in the world.
The practice of awelye is still actively performed throughout Central Australia for both social and healing purpose.
We are fortunate to view the awelye designs on canvases of many acclaimed Utopia artists. View superb paintings featuring awelye design: