The three spirits depicted here are those of three brothers who passed away in the Gibson Desert, long before the Pintupi people left it to reside in missions and out stations. In the ancient tradition, upon their death, their bodies were firstly put in a shallow depression in the sand and covered with tree branches. Later, after ceremonies each body was placed in a tree and once again covered with tree branches. According to ancient belief, the spirit left the body and came to reside in a tree.
And even today, among the trees is where spirits can be seen by Aboriginal people, always at night time. They look like cotton wool. They can only be seen through the neuro-visual pathway of Aboriginal people - white people see nothing.
The background lines indicate the rows and rows of high vegetated sand hills in the Pintupi Homeland. The Pintupi country covered a very large area, centred on Lake Mackay, which straddles the WA - NT border.