My struggle with my own Indigenous identity led me to create ways of engaging my children in their cultural heritage. I began writing short stories to help them relate to the culture they belonged to, if only by name. The romance of island life, the beautiful sea creatures and the habitat they lived in was always part of the inspiration and narrative for these stories.
As an artist, I wanted to offer a fresh look at Indigenous Artwork beyond the stereotypes. I wanted to capture everything I loved about the Torres Strait Islands, the tiger shark – my totem, the beauty of the pearls, the abundance of the fish in the ocean and the wisdom and flexibility of the Octopus.
To connect all these things I wrote a story about a warrior ~ Tjindgarmi (pronounced Jind-Gar-Me) who in a former life was the twin brother of the tiger shark, known as the protector of the greater community and even respected by his enemies.
What do we associate with warriors ~ a shield. Many civilisations around the world have a connection to shields and through this story I wanted to spark an interest in the people I descend from and honour their memory.
Tjindgarmi’s Story Surmised
After a whole lifetime of adventures and battles Tjindgarmi felt that his time as a warrior was coming to an end. Knowing full well he would not survive the night, he dragged himself down to the shore and into the water and he asked his brother the tiger shark to help release him from his old humanly form.
His brother was so please to see him but could not bring it upon himself to do his brothers bidding so together they asked the god Bomai to help them. Bomai was touched by the brotherly love and changed Tjindgarmi into an octopus.
Today, you can still see the brothers swimming around the waters of Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait.
Jasmin Herro – Tjindarmi Creator & Author