T is for Torres Strait Thoughtfulness & Tenderness–A to Z Blog Challenge

Mount St Bernard's Saiyan-Nona-Jennifer-Nona-and-Timena-Nona.Badu-Island-DancersT imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.

Torres Strait is a little north of Australia and below New Guinea, and sometimes people confuse these people with the Aboriginals of Australia though their traditions and beliefs are completely different.  With 18 islands, natives from this place claim the name of their island as their homeland rather than “Torres Strait.”  The top picture is of Badu Island Dancers from Mount St Bernard named Saiyan Nona, Jennifer-Nona, and Timena Nona.  The bottom picture of this post are some youth in connection with Badhulgaw Ngurpay Lag Campus at Tagai State College.

Present-Day Thoughtfulness & Tenderness

The Badu Island Foundation is an organization that improves economic conditions for the people there.  This non-government organization establishes partnerships with corporations in order for the Badu people to be trained and to hold onto jobs.  As Badu Island is an isolated area, these actions are greatly appreciated by all.  Find out more here: http://www.baduif.com.au/.

Past Thoughtfulness & Tenderness (Folktale)

Badu Island is one of the largest of the 18 islands of Torres Strait.  This folktale called “Bia” comes from the only book I could see of Torres Strait folktales called “Myths and Legends of Torres Strait” collected by Margaret Lawrie, published by University of Queensland Press.  The story is p. 49 yet really p. 75 of the pdf that can be downloaded on the lower left side of the web page here: http://www.textqueensland.com.au/item/book/83eddf5826e823103641f7e28e474898.

Here is a summary:

Bia was an aborigine with magical powers and who loved to throw his spear as a type of game.  He never threw his spear to hunt or kill but rather to throw it as far as he could along the long coastlines by using a woomera, spear-throwing wooden arm to get greater distances. He started at Cowal Creek on Cape York Peninsula though wished to explore.  Sometimes, when his spear disappeared completely under the sand, water gushed out when he walked to it and pulled it out.  One time, he was on Red Island Point and the spear landed at Alau and fresh water gushed from that spot ever since.  He traveled north to the islands by pulling out a small canoe and feather.  When he placed the feather in the small canoe, the canoe grew to carry him.  Once exploring these other islands, he threw his spear.  If the spear disappeared, then water gushed from that place forevermore.  If the spear partially disappeared, then the water gushed off and on from that place.  Some islands he liked and others he did not.  Finally, he came to Badu Island near a big rock called Kudal. He found a man named Itar living there.  These two became great friends and they lived together for a while.  They both enjoyed eating fish and yams, though Itar introduced Bia to another kind of yam called bua while Bia showed Itar the yam called saur.  They taught each other how to care and grow such yams and each were happy with the knowledge.  Meanwhile, Bia continued to throw his spear.  For the first time, it was harder for him to find his spear as the spear did not always leave a trail.  With great effort, he found it each time.  Yet, one day, when he threw the spear so far and could not see where it landed, he was distraught to find that it had stabbed his friend Itar.  With his magics, Bia took Itar’s body and placed in the ocean.  He pronounced that Itar would come back to life as a fish and eat only at night. The daytime Itar the fish would be safe within a hole in a stone. With such memories of his friend, he did not want to stay on Kudal anymore. He took his magic canoe and feather and traveled onward.  He still threw the spear and fresh water gushed forth.  Eventually, he found a woman whom he married.  While happy on the islands, he sensed danger was coming.  He did not wish to fight anyone and so he and his wife turned to the sea.  He transformed the two of them into sea turtles.  To this day, the first sighting of mating sea turtles are by Cowal Creek and other mating sea turtles follow from there.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • Bia has a kind heart and did not look upon a spear as most would as a weapon but rather to test his skills in strength
  • Bia brought about fresh water that he knew would be helpful to himself as well as others
  • Bia and Itar became fast friends and taught each other of different yams to enjoy life better
  • Despite the tragedy of Itar’s death, Bia brought  life again to Itar and made it possible for Itar to be safe during the day
  • Rather than facing the danger that could lead to fighting, Bia and his wife wished to live peaceful lives and became sea turtles
  • Bia and this wife–as mating sea turtles–led the way of other mating sea turtles which could be linked to their kindness and way of being


What stories of kindness do you know associated with Torres Strait or any of the 18 islands?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

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3 thoughts on “T is for Torres Strait Thoughtfulness & Tenderness–A to Z Blog Challenge

  1. For some reason, the story of Bia and Itar reminds me of the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I suppose it is the friendship between legendary figures and then one of them dies.

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