Torres Strait ‘Dance Machines’

Australian Art from the Torres Strait Islands

GoMA Torres Strait Islander

 “Zamiyakal, or ‘dance machines’ are objects used in the Torres Strait. They are called machines because they have many parts that can be twisted and moved, which helps to make the dance come alive. Each island has its own dances and its own Zamiyakal.

“This one is called Kugub, and it is used in dances about the god-like spirits who once lived with the people on the islands, but who now live in the stars controlling the weather and the seasons on earth.”

Zamiyakal, or 'dance machines' by Torres Strait Islander

Patrick Thaiday, born on Waiben (Thursday Island) explains his ‘Comet’ (Dance machines) pictured below:

“Comet kuikuipikal titui is my interpretation of the Comet in our language.

'Comet' (Dance machines)

Comet is like the head lady to the other stars, the one that leads the way. She appears only once every seven years, and everyone comes out to see her beauty, like a Bird of Paradise.

Comet Dance Machine by Patrick Thaiday

She moves so gracefully, with passion and pride like a mother followed by her children, one after the other, as she moves across the night sky.”

Comet Dance Machine by Patrick Thaiday

The above Dance Machines were part of the recent ‘Land, Sea and Sky’ exhibition at GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane) featuring the works of Torres Strait Islanders.

Did you get to see it?

What was your favourite?

The head dresses… prints… woven baskets… sculptures…

or these beautiful dance machines?

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4 thoughts on “Torres Strait ‘Dance Machines’

  1. Didn’t get to see the exhibition, being nowhere near Brisbane – but LOOOOOVE the insect-like machines and the explanations behind them!! One day I hope to see one for real!!

  2. I enjoyed doing Badu island dancing with my family at the exhibition and seeing my relatives artwork. It’s such a great opportunity for other people to learn more about Torres Strait.

    • Hi Mariah ~
      It was such a beautiful exhibition –
      I have to say, it was one of my favourites at GoMA.
      Stunning headdresses, beautiful prints, sculptures and craftwork – as you say a fantastic opportunity to learn more about your people of the Torres Strait.

      I wrote another post focusing on the Turtles & Dugongs in that same exhibition

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

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