Mandang Ikamba (strength of a crocodile)

Teho Ropeyarn
Mandang Ikamba (strength of a crocodile), 2020
Ink and vinyl-cut print on paper, 220 x 107cm.
2AP + Edition 2-5/5 available


The language spoken is Injinoo Ikya, a dialect of the four main clan groups who are the Angkamuthi (freshwater turtle totem), Yadhaykana (crocodile totem), Atambaya (dingo totem) and Gudang (land goanna totem) tribal clans that make up the Injinoo traditional lands, and together forms the Apudthama Nations. This artwork reflects the passing down of cultural knowledge from our Elders including language, tribal stories, art, dancing and cultural beliefs, in a day and age where culture and grass root knowledge is slowly deteriorating due to Elders passing, our changing lifestyle and social disadvantages in our communities.

As a symbol of strength, the ikamba (crocodile) in my work represents the spirit of my people both young and old and the spirit of my ancestors through my visual interpretation. The compilation of culture including stories, beliefs, land, traditions, and language is transformed into water or currents at the top of the print, which represents the beginning of time. The Dreaming of our Aboriginal culture has been instilled in our ancestors long before us. This cultural knowledge that has been passed down for many generations now flows through the currents of life who are our elders. Our elders are all positioned at the top, which are all filled with designs representing the knowledge of culture instilled in them: through to the next generation where half of our people are following culture and the other half are impacted by other social lifestyle or have limited knowledge on culture which is why they have no eyes or filled with cultural designs.

As the ikamba (crocodiles) are swimming upstream together, led by our Elders; culture, people and life is moving forward. The four currents in the river represent the four clans of Injinoo feeding this generation with cultural knowledge. In each current are elements of stories, totemic and inhabited animals of the sea, land and rivers that are part of each of the clans. Towards the bottom on the left is the moon, above is the star and over to the right is the sun, which represents our present existence.

Photo: Louis Lim. Courtesy of Onespace Gallery.