Learn the ancient Indigenous art of basket weaving

Living Well | RACV | Posted on 06 May 2020

Support Indigenous women while learning Tjanpi, the ancient art of basket weaving.

If you’re sick of baking and not quite ready to try juggling, consider the art of desert weaving as your next isolation skill. Tjanpi Desert Weavers, a social enterprise by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council that enables Anangu women to earn their own income from fibre art, is now live streaming their weaving workshop all around the country. 

Rene Kulitja from Mutitjulu, NT. 2015. Image by Rhett Hammerton. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women's Council.

Rene Kulitja from Mutitjulu, NT. 2015. Image by Rhett Hammerton. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women's Council.


From its beginnings in 1995 as a series of basket-making workshops on the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in WA, it has evolved into a group creating award-winning sculptural masterpieces including a giant Toyota and the Australian coat of arms.

Although their Alice Springs gallery is currently closed, you can order an at-home Learn-to-Weave Kit, which comes with a needle and raffia hanks, so you can learn to weave your own traditional basket. Follow the online video tutorial for a fun, unique new skill that is also a form of meditation. 

Tjanpi embodies the energies and rhythms of Country and culture. Representing more than 400 Aboriginal artists from 26 remote communities, the program allows Indigenous women to engage in meaningful, culturally significant employment.

There is a strong cultural connection for the artists, who come together to collect the grass for their art, and to hunt, gather food, visit significant sites, perform inma (cultural song and dance) and teach children about Country. Visit tjanpi.com.au to learn more about the artists, view their exhibitions and browse through their range of creations, from baskets and sculptures to jewellery and beads.


Image below: Tjanpi weavers from Papulankutja, WA. Kanytupayi Benson (dec.), Shirley Bennet, Nuniwa Donegan (dec.), Margaret Donegan, Melissa Donegan, Janet Forbes, Ruby Forbes (dec.), Diedre Lane, Elaine Lane, Freda Lane, Janet Lane, Jean Lane, Wendy Lane, Angela Lyon, Sarkaway Lyon, Angkaliya Mitchell, Mary Smith, Gail Nelson, Tjanpi Toyota. 2005. Image by Thisbe Purich. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women's Council.