"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Giant Devil-Dingo

The Giant Devil-Dingo by Dick Roughsey, 1973.

In the Dreamtime, Eelgin the grasshopper woman has Gaiya, a giant devil dingo in her thrall, and when the butcher-bird brothers, or Chooku-chooku, run into Eelgin while they are out hunting, they know that soon they will be the hunted. They are on the run, armed only with spears. Gaiya is huge, hungry and willing to chase them for days. This legend explains the origins of regular dingos and describes them as friends and helpers of people.

Dick Roughsey (1920-1985) was an Australian Aborginal author and artist of the Lardil people of Mornington Island. (To learn more about their history and culture click here .)  In information after the story, he says that this tale comes from several tribes in the lower Cape York peninsula. He  also says that unlike other creatures in the Dreamtime, the dingo was always a dog, not a human.

Roughsey's art shows the Dreamtime animal/people as dark, thin. long and featureless, making them seem at once alien and from the earth. Everything is painted in brown, terra cotta and shades of green. The Devil-Dingo is larger than an elephant and has ruddy eyes, a lolling tongue and vicious looking teeth and claws and is a fearsome foe indeed.

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