kuril dhagun | The Dhoeri: A Torres Strait Icon

Wind Gub

Wind-Gub, George Nona, Badu Island, 2010. Courtesy of the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

The kuril dhagun space at State Library showcased the dhoeri (meaning headdress in the Kala Lagaw Ya language of the Central and Western Torres Strait Islands), the iconic Torres Strait headdress that completed the traditional costume worn by Torres Strait Islander warriors in battle.

Although inter-island warfare ceased following colonisation, the headdress continues to be worn on the battlefield of the dance ground, where rival inter- and intra-island dance teams compete for community accolades.

Headdresses have been commissioned especially for the kuril dhagun exhibition from senior Torres Strait Islander artists living in Brisbane: Daniel Tapau from Mer Island in the Eastern Torres Strait, Roy Ober from Saibai Island in the Western Torres Strait, and Lennard Gibuma from Boigu Island also in the Western Torres Strait.

To complement these pieces, the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island also loaned five headdresses, made by George Nona from Badu Island in the Western Torres Strait in 2010.

The kuril dhagun exhibition provided a unique opportunity to learn more about this icon of Torres Strait Islander identity and culture.

sponsorThe State Library of Queensland gratefully acknowledges the loan of headdresses from the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island.

Koskir / Yoepakaz / Ipika

Waku Niyai Nguwakaz, Sharon Phineasa, 2010

Waku Niyai Nguwakaz, Sharon Phineasa, 2010

The important role of women is woven into Torres Strait Islander culture and society. Koskir means "woman" in Meriam Mer (Eastern language), Yoepakaz means "woman" in Kalaw Kawaw Ya and Ipika means "woman" Kala Lagaw Ya (Western languages).

This installation in kuril dhagun celebrates the history and beauty of women's adornment and weaving from the Torres Strait Islands.

Weaving artefacts was traditionally undertaken by women and was vital to everyday Island life. A variety of baskets, serving dishes, trays and decorative items were generally made from coconut or pandanus leaves. Contemporary weavers now use innovative materials and resources.

At feasting times, Torres Strait Islander women adorn themselves with tropical flowers such as the hibiscus and frangipani flowers worn in their hair. They wear decorative necklaces made from shells and seeds found from their Island surrounds, and a distinctive style of beautiful Island dress with bright floral prints.

Traditional hair combs carved from Wongai (wild plum tree) wood or bamboo was widely used prior to the contemporary synthetic versions used today. These carved combs were intricately embellished and were a highly treasured personal grooming item.

Many activities of daily Island life took place whilst sitting on a woven mat. Traditional food preparation, storytelling, and hair dressing were regularly carried out by women sitting together. This inter-generational time was also spent teaching and learning cultural knowledge and lore - a wonderful opportunity for sharing experiences and strengthening bonds. The woven mat represents the interweaving of these experiences, forming an important aspect of cultural identity.

Profiling the works of emerging Torres Strait Islander women artists, the display will draw on traditions and stories from home.

Open daily, 10am - 5pm
Level 1 | Free