Australian Sufis in Partnership with First Nations

By Nirtana Vivienne Robertson

Creative Director Reclaim the Void | Kinship Coordinator Australia

Reclaim the Void: weaving country whole is a partnership between Sufi and Australian First Nations ways. I believe it arose from asking the right question. Whilst in a small remote West Australian town on the edge of the desert I was meeting with First Nations’ Elders to discuss art, and asked ‘what is your deepest pain?’ One of the aunties said ‘it’s those gaping mining holes left all over our country’. What immediately arose was a vision of one of those holes sealed with a pattern that spoke the Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) of country.

That was many years ago, and my friend Kado, an elder and lawman from that town, and myself held the seed. Then in 2020, on a co-led Sufi-Indigenous retreat, he announced that the right timing had arrived for the project. Qahira Lucy Ridsdale’s hand-made rag-rug – born out of her desire to create a sacred mat on which to sing her beautiful songs – became the inspiration to use rugs to form the pattern. 

We now hold regular Sufi-Indigenous rug-making camps on country, and the project has taken off with people from around the globe wanting to contribute rugs. At the camps, we do practices that are relevant to people’s desire to be involved.  These include: 1) Offering gratitude for the beauty of country.  2) Facing the past and taking shared responsibility for our over-extraction of resources on sacred land. 3) Offering our apology through this simple everyday act of reparation and healing by making a rug. 4) Learning about Indigenous culture and how to be on the land, and 5) Expressing desire and joy to walk forwards together with our sisters and brothers.  

We’d welcome anyone from our Inayatiyya community to be involved. Each rug has a story – hidden and manifest – and would be beautiful contributions as we spiral towards realization.

Editor’s note:  For an excellent description of this program, visitwww.reclaimthevoid.com.au

Concept Image (Nirtana Vivienne Robertson) based on original painting Tui (Claypans) by Ngalia artist Dolly Walker.

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