Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh

Torres Strait Islander Art from Badu Island
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Thubaw Epi

Thubaw Epi


Size: image size 49cm x 33xm, paper size 78cm x 55cm

Medium: Coloured Etching

$550.00 (Incl GST)

This artwork is based on a true story from Badu Island and passed on from generation to generation.

It is about a marrakai (evil spirit) who takes the form of both man and snake, who falls in love with an young beautiful epika (young, strong and beautiful woman).

The epika lived in a village Kianplai on Badu Island. Kianplai village had strict rules that only men were allowed to go up to the waterhole to take water. All epikaz (women) obeyed this without question knowing there was a reason for this rule.

The young epika in her wonder asked her mother one day “Mother, why aren’t epikaz allowed near the waterhole?” Her mother explained to the young epika that the waterhole was sacred ground and only for men - no epikaz were ever allowed.

The young epika’s inquisitive nature got to her, so one morning she snuck out from the village and she walked up the narrow path to the waterhole to see if she could find out why it was sacred. She spent the day at the beautiful waterhole and failed to discover any particular danger or reason why epikaz could not visit the waterhole. From then on, each day she snuck out of the village to run up to the waterhole. After a short while, she was marked by the marrakai thab (evil spirit/ snake man) which she had no knowledge of.

One morning when she came up to the waterhole, the marrakai thab took the form of a man and approached her, casting a magic spell onto the epika so she would fall in love with him. The thab would then take her everywhere with him, to places where she’d never been too, wherever she desired to go, but at the end of each day he would return her safely back to the village. This went on for a while, until the villagers got suspicious seeing the epika leaving each morning only to return in the afternoon without explanation.

Her people, the elders and the chief of the village talked and made plans that they would follow the young epika to see where was going. They did this and found out that she was meeting with the marrakai thub. To their shock this had been going on for some time and as a result of his spell, she was also mating with the marrakai thub. The village people resolved to attack the marrakai thub, setting a trap and chasing him down, throwing spears and arrows.

The marrakai thub disappeared and was never seen again. After the chasing away of the marrakai thub, the villagers noticed the epika’s belly starting to grow and it was obvious she was already pregnant from the marrakai thub. As her belly grew, her body started to take changes, slowly taking on the form of a thub. She died a horrible death during the pregnancy because of the marrakai thub had left a spell on her.

Even today, the people of Badu including myself, still believe that the marrakai thub and the spirits of the people of Kianplai live among us.