The origin of the first-formed human beings is ascribed to two individuals named ungambikula who lived in the western sky, and, seeing far away to the east a mob of inapertwa creatures, who were the incomplete transformations of animals and plants, came down to earth, and with their knives released their half-formed arms and legs, cut open their mouths, bored holes for nostrils, slit the eyelids apart, and thus out of the inapertwa made men and women. After having circumcised the men the two ungambikula changed themselves into little lizards called amunga-quinia-quinia.

The totemic ancestors who originated in this way marched in groups across the country, every one of them carrying with him, or her, not only a personal tjurunga, but often many others also. Every one of these tjurunga was associated with the spirit part of an individual, and at various spots these Alcheringa ancestors went into the ground, the tjurunga with the associated spirit remaining behind, above ground. There are thus at the present day, dotted about all over the Arrernte country, a very large number of places associated with these Alcheringa spirits, one group of whom will be kangaroo, another emu, another Hakea plant, and so on.

The Unmatjera and Kaitish tribes have traditions dealing with incomplete human beings whom the former call inmintera, and who are similar to the inapertwa of the Arrernte.



  • Spencer, Sir Baldwin. (1904). Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan, pp. 150, 152-3.

This article incorporates text from Northern Tribes of Central Australia (1904) by Sir Baldwin Spencer, which is in the public domain.