How Ilipari Became Katja
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 61 cm
My name is Chern’ee Sutton and I am a contemporary indigenous artist from the Kalkadoon people in Mount Isa, Queensland.
In the Kalkadoon language “Ilipari” means big lizard and “Katja” means little and this painting is my interpretation of “How ilipari became Katja”.
Long, long ago there was a beautiful big lizard that lived next to a billabong, his skin and markings were so unique they raised above his body like the mountain ranges raise up from the earth. Because of his beauty ilipari was considered by all lizards to be the leader of them all.
Day after day kookaburra saw ilipari gloating to all the other lizards about his distinct beauty and so kookaburra thought he would play a trick on ilipari. Kookaburra waited until all the other lizards had gone home and when ilipari was alone he told him how sorry he felt for him for being so ugly with rough looking skin. If you had smoother skin said kookaburra your beauty would be then recognised by not just the other lizards but by all animals and you would be the leader of us all, with this statement kookaburra laughed at ilipari and then flew of into the late afternoon sky.
As night grew near ilipari pondered on what kookaburra had said and although he thought he was beautiful now he would love to be the leader of all the animals. Ilipari tossed and turned while trying to sleep and finally ilipari fell soundly asleep thinking kookaburra was right and he started dreaming that he was different.
The moon spirit heard ilipari’s dreams and granted him his wish to be different. When ilipari awoke in the morning he felt strange somehow and decided to get a drink from the billabong. When he leaned over to get a drink he saw his reflections in the water and was horrified to know that he had been tricked, he was not a big lizard anymore but was a small gecko with smooth skin. All the other animals laughed at how ugly and tiny ilipari was now and when kookaburra perched in a tree ilipari asked why did you lie to me kookaburra. Kookaburra replied because everyone used to be able to see your beauty, you did not have to keep telling us and remind us every day.
The tiny gecko that was ilipari was so ashamed of the ridicule that he now only comes out when it is night time and quiet and no other animals are around to laugh at him.
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