Mary Larry

Bush Medicine

“I used to walk around Patjarr with my grandmother collecting bush medicine. We would grab the leaves, the roots, make a fire and boil it up in a big pot. Then we would put it in a little container, you rub it on when you are sick. Helps with boils, scabies, wounds. This one is called Warlparriny.”

– Mary Larry
Traditional Martu knowledge of plant properties was encyclopedic, and saw plants used for purposes as diverse as food resources, carving implements, tobacco, firewood, shelter construction, and bush medicines. Depicted in this work are types of bush medicines, their habitats, and the processes used in their preparation.
Physical ailments treated with plant based poltices, body washes, drinks, rubs and pastes included fever, conges􏰁on, headache, skin sores, aching limbs, and digestive problems. More serious health issues were often treated with a combination of bush medicine and maparn (magic healing/ healer).
Plants still prepared to make bush medicines today include warlji (desert bloodwood), kalpari (Dysphania Kalpari) and nayju (green crumbweed), which can be soaked in a water solution to make a skin wash. One of the most popular types of bush medicine still used today is wanta (red sap), collected from the mijarrpa (bloodwood) tree and brewed as a tea to ease heart pains and other body aches.

Region: Martumili Artists, Pilbara WA
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 91cm (h) x 61cm (w)
Price: $665