Githalai is the word for mud crab in the Kala Lagaw Ya language (Central Torres Strait Islands).
When crabs are collected in a box and try to escape, they pull each other down. Essentially, this is the same as the ‘tall poppy syndrome’, and a common problem amongst those of us trying to get ahead. We, as Indigenous Australians, need to be more mindful of ways to support each other rather than being jealous, neglectful and abusive, which prevent us from getting ahead.
In my print, I’ve included designs to individualize each crab. Each contains traditional island designs (minar), representing socially destructive meanings which contributes towards the githalai effect.
#1 The design (minar) on its back literally means distant sound. Usually representing singing or drum, I mean it to represent people who talk endlessly behind your back. We call this disgraceful talk as ‘carry-yarn’
#2 Contains minar with hidden men with their hands raised against each other – this concerns racial prejudice, even amongst us.
#3 The design on the crab’s back represents ‘boxing waves’ clashing. When people’s carry-yarn becomes hurtful, information that is twisted and untrue to the original meaning.
#4 The man is blowing a bo, a trumpet shell, literally spreading rumours from one side of the island to the other.
#5 The stonefish and stingray represent divisive ‘toxic’ talk. Mean intent to defame, disarm, demean or destroy a person. Cursing others causes harm to the victims.
#6 Domestic abuse. Many young men grow up to be abusive, based on the models of their parents. The design around the woman represents water rippling. This culture of non-caring will only end when we educate youth and break the cycle.
#7 The owl literally means ‘sticky-beak’ into other people’s business. We call this over-indulgence in other people’s business as ‘big-eye’. Being interested in other’s affairs can be constructive, and an answer for supporting those in need. But, given the wrong intentions, can lead to jealousy and interference.