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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 law-giver, 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.