Naath (State II) by Dennis NonaNaath (State II) by Dennis Nona
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Naath (State II)

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One of the traditional ways of hunting dugong is by building a platform over the mud flats when the tide is low. Only one brave man in all the western island villages is skilled enough to practice killing dugong in this way. This skill is passed on through his family over many generations. The skilled hunter can tell, by looking for patches of seaweed that have been grazed, where the dugong will return over the next few nights. At night the hunter must not sleep with his family or wife, according to custom. The next day he constructs the platform and in the afternoon, the village people help him up on to the platform which is decorated with dugong charms made out of carved wood. The charms are decorated with cassowary feathers and cowrie shells. The man has coconut oil rubbed onto this body to keep bad spirits away and the rope, made from coconut fibre, is coiled up on the platform and then let out, running across to the shoreline where other villagers secure it, awaiting the kill. Under moonlight, in the stillness of the night, the hunter hears the sound of the dugong breaking the water to breathe. He readies himself silently as the dugong has exceptional hearing. When the dugong comes close he sees the phosphorescent glow in the water and, to make the kill, must aim slightly in front of it. The hunter’s harpoon is thrust into the dugong with the dart and rope attached. The dugong can swim around wildly for several hours in this state, unless a spell or special incantation has been put on the rope which may help lull the dugong and weaken its movement. In the print the hunter is depicted in the form of a spirit with a moon-shaped head and feet for flying through the air.

Artwork Information

Location Australia
Region Torres Strait
Artist Dennis Nona
NWC Nation N/A
Date Created 1993
Dimensions 29.9" x 22.4"
Materials & Edition Lincout Kaidaral edition 75

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