Teaching of the Lore

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This picture is about the Torres Strait Islanders' traditional customs and ceremonies.Custom and culture are very important among the islanders. A young man in his tribal community, in his childhood development, is like a little boy anywhere in the world. He would play games with the other children, climb trees and imitate the ways of his elders before him.When the young boy comes to a certain age, his father would send him to be taught his traditional lores in the Kwod (sacred meeting place) for a certain number of years, for his initiation. Here he would learn all the lores from the chief man, who is the lawgiver, who is represented by the chest pendant on top of the picture. During his initiation ceremony period, he would eat only certain food and had to avoid contact with women. While he was there, he was taught many sacred things in order to survive in the islanders' society. He was taught how to be a warrior, traditional ways of hunting dugong and fish, and was expected by the elders to always be obedient to every lore of the tribes, by learning his rituals, religious and magical powers and all of his sacred and ceremonial dances.After the completion of the ceremony, the young boy would then be welcomed back into his community by the sounding of the Bu (trumpet shell), and the bullroarer. The welcoming ceremony is symbolised by the intricate design of the mat in the background.He was taught all of the traditional ways of making gardens for his clan. What he was taught will guide him through the ways of his traditional life and would make him a Kernge (a humble man), in the presence of his ancestors from the ceremony.Throughout the young boys life he would follow the lores and the teaching from his days in the Kwod. His sons would also follow the same ways, generation after generation.
  • Medium: Linocut. 
  • Artist: David Bosun. 
  • Image Size: 600 mm x 440mm. 
  • Paper Size: 700 mm x 500 mm. 
  • Paper: Magnani 350gsm. 
  • Edition Size: 55

Torres Strait Island artist David Bosun is from the tribe of Wug on Moa Island and grew up in a very sensitive cultural environment. From the age of four he practised traditional dancing and singing. He first became interested in art in grade six after participating in an art class at school. David attended Thursday Island Secondary school and later moved to All Saints and St Gabriel’s Anglican college on the mainland. During high school, he was always in trouble for drawing in class instead of doing his work. In 1996, he took a visual arts course at the Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE. In 1997, when David returned to Moa Island, he met up with his childhood friend Dennis Nona and realised that the career he had been looking for was in fact what had always got him into trouble at school.

David believes that future generations in the Torres Strait and beyond need to be educated about the rich heritage and distinctiveness of Torres Strait culture. He is striving to record and illustrate his ancestral beliefs and traditions through the visual and performing arts. David has also been a member of the Royal Australian Army Reserve and is currently a Councillor with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council. He is a founding member of the Mualgau Mineral Artists Collective, which was very influential in popularising Torres Strait Islander art in Australia and internationally. David’s work can be seen at the National Gallery of Australia, Australian state art galleries and several important overseas art institutions.

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