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Australian Indigenous Astronomy

Baidam – The Shark Constellation

30 Dec 2013, 13:11 UTC
Baidam – The Shark Constellation
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Baidam painting by Dennis Nona.In the astronomical traditions of Torres Strait Islanders, Baidam is a shark. The shark constellation consists of seven stars. The stars of Baidam were used for navigation and provided knowledge about the seasons and for gardening fruit and vegetables. In about July/August Baidam will level itself across the horizon of New Guinea [to the north]. At seven or eight o'clock you will see it parallel to New Guinea. At this time the wind drops. Around this time we begin planting vegetables and fruit: Cassava, Dawai(banana), Guru (sugar cane), Taro/Urrgubau (sweet potato). Those are the main ones planted when the shark lies across the horizon. When it becomes calm in the Torres Strait, around this time, a grease forms on the surface of the sea. I have shown this in the artwork. The grease is called "Baidam aw id" - "when the shark liver has melted on the sea". At this time it is also shark mating season: a dangerous time in the sea. The shark constellation rotates throughout the year. In February, when you see the stars beginning to shine, that's the shark. (Account by Dennis Nona)Baidam artwork by Brian Robinson.Editor's note: Some of the accounts ...

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