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Dugong Hunting Charm

The dugong is an aquatic mammal that is an important source of protein for the islanders of the Torres Strait, the narrow band of water between New Guinea and Australia. Carvings of the creature were believed to ensure success in dugong hunting. This charm depicts two animals: a smaller carving of a dugong calf has been placed on the back of the larger dugong. Catching both a dugong and her calf was considered particularly lucky, since it provided additional meat.

Torres Strait, Australia
Dugong Hunting Charm
19th century (?)
Wood, stone, fiber, pigment
L. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 2010.16