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© Billy John McFarlane Missi/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Karkuran purika (laying eggs)

Date: 2008
Image: 350 x 280 mm
Sheet: 530 x 380 mm
Medium: Linocut printed in black ink (Van Son)
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Billy John McFarlane Missi
Object Name: Linocut
Object No: 00050597
Place Manufactured:Cairns
Related Place:Torres Strait,

User Terms

    This linocut by Billy Missi is titled ‘Karkuran purika’ ('Laying eggs') and is printed in black ink from one block. It features a turtle laying eggs - a seasonal activity that occurs on the uninhabited islands of the Western Torres Strait. Turtles and their eggs provide a major source of protein as part of the Torres Strait Islander diet.

    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 turtle egg laying on the lunar calendar and diets of people and animals alike in the Torres Strait Islands.

    HistoryArtist's statement:
    "This image expresses one of the natural activities that happen during certain phases of the moon on uninhabited isles around our homeland, the Maluilgal (Western Torres Strait) waterway.
    Hawksbill turtles crawl up on the beaches during the night to make their nest and lay eggs, so that they are not seen by other predators.
    They usually lay under shady trees so their nest can stay cool throughout the warm sunny days. However, early in the mornings, goannas and snakes smell the turtle-making activity and are not far from curiously finding new scents of the animal food chain.
    Sometimes, goannas will go into the turtle nests and drink all the eggs before local hunters can find them to dig out. Local hunters usually look to gather turtle eggs during transition between Islands.
    Turtle eggs are one of the many delicacies for Islanders to indulge in."

    Marine turtles have important cultural and social values for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders living in coastal areas of northern Australia. They are an essential food item for some of the island communities in the Torres Strait where there are few other sources of fresh red meat. Eggs of marine turtles are also an important source of protein. Torres Strait Islanders have one of the highest seafood consumption rates in the world.
    Six species of marine turtle live in the Torres Strait region with three - hawksbill, green and flatback - breeding on the remote islands. Green turtles are hunted more regularly than the other species. Hawksbill turtles are rarely hunted because they can be poisonous or unpleasant to eat. Most turtles are taken in the later part of the year, during the breeding season. In a few communities, marine turtles are taken in large numbers for traditional feasting. Harvested turtles and eggs are shared equally among relatives and friends of the hunters. Turtle oil is used as a medicine or tonic. Turtle may only be taken in the course of traditional fishing and used for traditional purposes.

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