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What is the difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Both cultures belong to people considered as Indigneous Australians. But one group of people, namely Aboriginal people, are publicised and consequently more well-known than the other, and this is Torres Strait Islander people. Why is this?

If we look to history, we can see that Aboriginal people live on most of the mainland ofAustralian and were far more in number than Torres Strait Islander people. So it is easy to see why they might have been impacted more by the invasion compared to Torres Strait Islander people that mostly inhabit the circle of islands above the top of Australia.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are two different groups of people just as the Japanese and Chinese are. They have different customs, cultural norms, history and physical attributes. To simplify these differences, we can think of Aboriginals as the mainland people of Australia and the Torres Strait Islanders are the island people. This difference is reflected in their art stules, cultural songs and dances, stories and traditions.

A great illustration for these differences is portrayed through their artwork as mentioned. For example, Aboriginal people mostly paint stories behind how the land on the mainland of Australia was formed, the animals, navigating the land, what plants can be used for medicinal purposes and their spiritual connection to that land. A popular style of painting comes from the Utopian women who frequently depict bush medicine leaves that have a multitude of purposes. One such painting is below:

Credit to Louise Numina (To view more of her artwork, visit https://www.artery.com.au/artists/item/louise-numina-napanangka

On the other hand, Torres Strait Islander artwork can be a lot more muted in colour and frequently depicts stories about the ocean, the islands and the sea animals.

Credit to David Bosun. To view more of his artwork, visit https://www.moaart.com.au/artists/david-bosun

The style of dancing and celebration is different between those two cultures but most importantly, both groups of people can celebrate that they practice the oldest surviving cultures in the world!

To learn more about both cultures, keep your eyes on this blog.

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