Zug Ngurpik is a phrase used to describe a hunter who has trained his shoulder, to throw a Dagul (Spear) or Wap (Harpoon) in order to bring home a large catch from the Sea. Zug Ngurpik tanslates literally to Shoulder Learning .
In my culture the Awadhe (Uncle) of the mother’s side, is more imporant and well respected by the Wadhuwam (nephew) than that of the father. Reason being of the bloodline. After a young boy has his first initiation, called the Ubu Pathai (first shave), he is no longer under the care of his parents. He is traditionally handed over to his Awadhe of the mother’s side. The Awadhe’s role is to teach and educate him in the traditional ways of the Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) people, and to equip with the skills to hunt and survive on the land and most importantly out at sea.
This print shows how it was practised traditionally before any European contact in the Zenadh Kes. I show the Awadhe instructing his Wadhuwam how to read the actions of the Dhangal (Dugong). Awadhe’s verbal instructions tell of the Dhangal surfacing three times before diving down deep to feed in rough seas. As a student of his Awadhe, the Wadhuwam will see only a few of his many prey. These are the Dhangalal (dugongs), Warul (turtles), and Wapil (fishes).
Awadhe and Wadhuwam communicate with their ancestors’ spirits from the past. These spirits help direct the prey to the young hunter. When the Wadhuwam returns to his island after completing his instruction at sea, the elders of the village gather as the ceremony begins. A sacred dance was performed by certain members of his Baui (tribe).
These dancers represented certain totems. Later a Sibuy (skull) of the Wadhuwam’s totem, along with specific traditional hunting weapons and materials such as the Wap (harpoon), Amu (rope), Kuyurul (darts attached to the wap) are presented to him by the dancers. At this very moment, as the Wadhuwam sits before the dancers, he is blessed by the spirits of his ancestors who were once powerful hunters, long before his time.
The Susu Apu (mother) must only watch her son from a distance as her memory takes her back to when he was a Mepath (infant), and who has now transformed into the Malu Garka (seaman/hunter).