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© Billy John McFarlane Missi/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Zagan Gud Aladhi (Star Constellation)

Date: 2007
Overall: 1000 x 700 mm
Medium: Linocut printed in black ink, hand coloured
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Billy John McFarlane Missi
Object Name: Linocut
Object No: 00049231
Place Manufactured:Cairns
Related Place:Papua New Guinea, Australia, Torres Strait,

User Terms

    This linocut by Billy Missi is titled ‘Zagan Gud Aladhi’ (Star Constellation) and is printed in black ink from one block and then hand coloured. It tells of how, at a particular time of the year, the smaller fish appear, the tides and the night sky change, the first of the migratory birds appear from neighbouring Papua New Guinea, and the turtle breeding season begins.
    SignificanceThrough his artwork Billy Missi expresses the importance of his cultural heritage and kinships and demonstrates how this, in the form of the knowledges and stories shared in Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) culture, has sustained his people to survive for many, many generations in the Torres Strait. This linocut shows the significance of star constellations, animal migratory patterns and breeding cycles in Torres Strait Islander ontological belief systems.
    HistoryArtist's statement:

    Zagal are little fish that come around at a particular time of the year.

    In this print I express the disappearance of the Baidam (shark) constellation - zugu bau thithuil. Our culture's ontological belief is that during August when the Baidam disappears from the northern sky of the Torres Strait and all you see is other groups of stars, that's when the first group of migrant birds (birubirul) pass through from Papua New Guinea to mainland Australia. Early morning low tides become regular, which we call in our language Baidam au Thugau (meaning Baidam low tide in Kala Lagaw Ya, the Western Torres Strait Island dialect).

    This is usually at the end of Wongai season and signifies the beginning of the turtle mating season also.

    Zagal are plentiful at this time, so bigger fish attack and chase them along the reefs. The sharks, which are pregnant, chase the bigger fish to eat.

    These are times when there are only low tides in the morning and at night and only high tides during the day, leading up to the big spring tides.

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