Stingray Dreaming Paintings
Stingray artworks show a symbol of stealth and power in Aboriginal society and a totem for northern Australia, as well as a food source for hunters & an Ancestor spirit.
The stingray along with sharks and sawfish in the elasmobranch group of cartilaginous sea animals are common in the oceans around the northern coastlines of Australia. Aboriginal hunters are familiar with them and manage to co-habit as they hunt and fish along the reefs and bays in their coastal homelands. While many are not dangerous to man, stingrays and sharks are treated with respect and seen as a powerful symbol of strength and status in the oceans. Stingrays are a favoured food source and are hunted using spears from boats or are stalked while moving through shallow waters. Stingrays are cooked by roasting on hot coals or may be boiled, but need to be finally rinsed out in freshwater.
The stingray is integrated into Aboriginal society as a symbol of stealth and appears as a totemic image for clans in northern Australia. Societies that value the stingray include Mornington and Groote Islands, Yirrkala, Maniningrida and Ramingining in Arnhemland, Badu and Islands of the Torres Strait and at Cape York in northern Queensland. On Groote Eylandt the Stingray and other sea animals are part of the Creation mythology of the island and they are represented in paintings that tell of the creation stories and the importance of these animals as food since the time of the Ancestors.
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