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© Billy John McFarlane Missi/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Warup (drum)

Date: 2007
Image: 305 x 405 mm
Sheet: 510 x 650 mm
Medium: Linocut printed in black ink (Van Son)
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Billy John McFarlane Missi
Object Name: Linocut
Object No: 00050596
Place Manufactured:Cairns
Related Place:Torres Strait, Western, Papua New Guinea,

User Terms

    This linocut print by Billy Missi is titled ‘Warup’ (drum) and is printed in black ink from one block and then hand coloured. It features a warup (drum), which is often carved from wood originating from New Guinea, as suitable trees do not grow in the Torres Strait Islands. The top of the warup is usually covered with goanna skin. It is then often decorated with cassowary feathers and bees’ wax and carved with traditional designs. The warup is a significant instrument used in Torres Strait Islander dances and other performances.

    Billy Missi came from Maluilgal country in Zenadh Kes (Western Torres Strait) and grew up in the traditional customary ways and practices of his cultural heritage in the Torres Strait. He came from a well respected generation of art practitioners and geographers of Mabuiag who have passed down the protocols, practices and heritage of the Torres Strait culture through storytelling, songs and dance.
    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 the warup as a trade item between the Torres Strait Islands and the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, and how it is an integral part of Torres Strait Islander dance culture.

    HistoryArtist's statement:
    "The Warup (drum) is one of the Torres Strait's main ceremonial items. It is used in traditional dances and other ritual performances.
    In the Torres Strait some Warups are made on the Islands and some have been traded from the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. They are made out of a special tree which grows in the dense woodlands surrounding the salt pan areas behind the coastal mangroves.
    The skins on the drum come from large goannas which roam the beaches and feed on fresh turtle eggs. The Warups are then decorated with cassowary feathers and bees' wax and carved with traditional designs which either represent the tribe or what the actual ceremony is about.
    The Warup gives the impression of thunder and usually orchestrates the moves at dance ceremonies.
    Today we still use the drums on our Islands and pass on the knowledge to our children of how significant this ceremonial item is. The craftsmen making the drums on the Islands are passing on the wonderful skills of carving as well."

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