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© Billy John McFarlane Missi/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Kulba Yadail (Old Lyrics)

Date: 2006
Overall: 845 x 475 mm
Medium: Linocut printed in black ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Billy John McFarlane Missi
Object Name: Linocut
Object No: 00049227
Place Manufactured:Cairns
Related Place:Torres Strait,

User Terms

    This linocut by Billy Missi is titled ‘Kulba Yadail’ (Old Lyrics) and is printed in black ink from one block. It tells the story of how Torres Strait Islanders learn how to read the stars, the moon and the sea to understand the four seasons of Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) and what each brings to the land and sea environments within the region.
    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 and seasons in orienting everyday life in the Torres Strait Islands’ land, navigation and maritime environments.
    HistoryArtist's statement:

    In our culture, stories and other knowledge of our world have always been handed down orally from generation to generation since time immemorial. It is this knowledge that provides guidance. From the boys’ perspective, it is their uncles, fathers and sometimes grandfathers who teach them this knowledge. This plays a big role later in life.

    Kulba Yadail teaches us to read the stars, the moon and the sea. This image symbolises Kulba Yadail that describes our environment, our culture and also our identity. The piece is divided into three parts: the constellations of the stars, the land and the four seasons of the Torres Strait. There are important Zugubal (star constellations) that move through the sky and are intimately connected to the four seasons. One of the most important Zugubal is the Baidam (shark) which is closely observed in the Western Torres Strait as a signal for changes in the tides, wind and seasons. The four seasons are represented as Sager (south-east trade winds), Ghabu Thornar (winter), Naigai (the calm Northerly wind before monsoon) and Kuki (the monsoon).

    The relationship between the stars and the seasons determines when we can cultivate, hunt and harvest the land. The swaying pattern that runs diagonally from the top left to the bottom right symbolises all of this complex knowledge, that is known as Kulba Yadail.

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