DETAIL : Jimmy BAKER 'Katatjita' 2006 synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Courtesy of Marshall Arts Aboriginal Fine Art Gallery, � Jimmy Baker
Dennis NONA | Ubirikubiri

NONA, Dennis
Australia 1973
Ubirikubiri 2007
bronze and pearlshell
overall 110.0 (h) x 360.0 (w) x 120.0 (d) cm
Purchased 2007
Courtesy of the artist and the Australia Art Print Network

This is a legend that took place on the Mai Kusa River on the western coast of Papua New Guinea. Following the death of his wife, a man decided to give his daughter a pet to help console her and keep her company. He brought her a puppy but she didn’t like it. He then brought her a piglet but she didn’t like that either ... One day when he was out spearing fish in the back he came across a baby crocodile, which he caught and took home to show his daughter.

She really liked it and named the crocodile Ubirikubiri. As the crocodile grew, the man kept enlarging the pen. After Ubirikubiri had become fully grown, the father went to visit friends in another village, and he neglected to feed the crocodile the entire time he was away. When he returned Ubirikubiri was very hungry and very annoyed at having been left without food for such a long time.

As the father went to feed Ubirikubiri some fish, the crocodile grabbed him and killed him, then it broke out of the pen, placed the father on his back and headed to the Mai Kusa. The daughter, who had not been at home when Ubirikubiri seized her father, saw the broken pen and evidence of a skirmish. She followed Ubirikubiri’s tracks to the river, calling out to the crocodile to tell her about her father. At ziba ziba (dusk), Ubirikubiri appeared on the river bank with the girl’s father on his back. She pleaded with the crocodile to give up her father but, shaking his huge body, the crocodile refused and headed back into the river. There is a moral to part of this story that instructs us that if animals are taken from their natural environment they must be looked after and treated and cared for properly.

Dennis Nona and the Australian Art Print Network, 2007