Dennis Nona Yatai Kuik 2011
Bronze, pearl shell and cassowary feathers 280 x 230 x 300 mm $14250
The artist has depicted a human skull adorned with pearl shell eyes and Cassowary feathers on the legs of bush turkey.
The significance of this relates to earlier times on the Islands where the bird acted as a sentinel, warning villagers of
impending danger from raiding parties intent on collecting skulls for trading or ceremonial purposes.
Raiding parties counted on the element of surprise by invading in the early mornings while their intended victims were asleep.
The bush turkey makes certain sounds and calls. When disturbed in it’s habitat by humans it makes a distinctive call which
immediately alerts the villagers that strangers are approaching.
Skulls were the main trading currency used by the Torres Strait Islander people with their Papuan New Guinean neighbours.
Skulls were mainly exchanged for canoe hulls which could not be sourced on the islands.
The nose and eye sockets of the skulls were filled with bees wax. Pearl shell, in the diamond shape shown in the sculpture,
was inserted into the wax in the eye sockets. Feathers and other adornments were attached to the skull to enhance its
appearance and desirability as a trading item.