Black Hammerhead Shark Eastern Island Dari Warrior Headdress

Ken Thaiday Snr2009

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Sydney, Australia

The sculptural practice of Ken Thaiday Snr traverses very different cultures. A senior member of the Meriam community on Erub (Darnley) Island, Thaiday is a custodian of dance traditions and the associated ceremonial paraphernalia particular to his clan. His kinetic headdresses with moveable parts and dance machines designed by the artist for ceremonial, performance and exhibition purposes, can be found in museum and gallery collections both in Australia and internationally. In 1987 Thaiday helped establish the Darnley Island Dance Troupe in Cairns and his sculptural practice developed in tandem with the troupe from this time. The sculptures have become increasingly ornate and theatrical as he has explored new designs and modes of fabrication from non-traditional lightweight materials combined with traditional materials. His headdresses and dance machines are animated with the movement of the dancers, who open and close them theatrically during performance. The Beizam (hammerhead shark) is a powerful symbolic figure in the maintenance of traditional law and order in the eastern islands of the Torres Strait. Ken Thaiday Snr's sculptural practice has inspired a school of Islander sculpture in Cairns.


  • Title: Black Hammerhead Shark Eastern Island Dari Warrior Headdress
  • Creator: Ken Thaiday Snr
  • Date Created: 2009
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010 Image courtesy and copyright the artist
  • External Link: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Medium: enamel paint on plastic and plywood, steel wire, feathers; 3 pieces: headdress 130 x 88 x 15 cm; sharks each 64 x 37 x 64 cm

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