Men in Mourning from the series Ritual and Ceremony by Maree Clarke. 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery

Linear Artists: Mr Ngallametta Snr

Thap Yongk (law poles) relate to the most fundamental issues of Indigenous Australian culture — the inter-relationships of land, culture and the creation time. Representing upturned trees, the Thap Yongk extend from the ground, suggesting hidden branches, while the roots are at the top of the poles. The poles draw the spirit back to the ground, the ‘hidden’ branches symbolising the extensive network of stories and laws connecting people to the land and to each other.
Thap Yongk are usually seen only by men of the community. The artist, who is a senior lawman for the Kugu Uwanh people of Snake River of western Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, made these poles to be shared with the larger community, stating: ‘I know your laws: now you can understand mine.’