Awakening: Stories from the Torres Strait

"Awakening" seeks to reconnect the spirit between people and their objects.


Cultural Advice: Visitors should be aware that the exhibition and website may include names, images and voices of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is our intention to tell these stories and use imagery with good faith and with respect.

"As a Torres Strait Islander wherever you travel, when you come back to your homeland, you feel complete"

Uncle Thomas Sebasio, Erub Island Elder, 2011

Mats were very important to traditional ways of life. They provided shelter, were used to sit and sleep on, to teach from, and to welcome visitors and trading partners.  The also formed the sails of canoes. 

Women made these large mats by interweaving strips of pandanus or coconut leaf, which had been made pliable by scraping with a sea shell. 

Plaiting was also used to make fans, a well-used object in hot days on the islands.

Rest and recreation is important to people everywhere.

One recreation activity was top spinning.  Competitions were confined to Mer, and held by senior men. The person who could spin the top for the longest time won. Special kolap songs were sung while they were spinning.

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