Tagai the warrior on his canoe is a huge Aboriginal constellation with the southern cross as his left hand, the right hand in Corvus the crow and one foot in the curve of the stars also known as Scorpio, the other on the three stars of the Scorpion's head. His crew are bright stars of the Pleaides and Orion that seem to be folllowing his rotation about the south celestial pole. In the north of Australia (to about latitude 15 degrees south) they appear to rise in the east as he sets in the west during the night.
From Tagai's position at dusk people of the Torres Strait are aware of when the seasonal rains will come and when to plant crops . The first Rain of the season, Kuki, will begin as Tagai's left hand (the Southern Cross) dives towards the sea ( winter, June) a time of monsoons, thunder and lightning as you can see from the story below.
One day whilst in their outrigger canoe Tagai and his crew of Zugubals did some fishing. The leader Tagai who was the best fisherman left the canoe and walked on to the reef to look for more fish. A long time passed.
The crew got hotter and hotter waiting for Tagai. Diving into the sea didn't even cool them off. Drinking water would cool them off, but the only water available belonged to Tagai. It was stored in coconut shells carefully hung over the side of the canoe.
How the men longed for water!
They decided they could wait no longer. Hauling the coconut shells into the canoe they devoured the cold, refreshing water.
Returning to discover all the drinking water for their voyage gone Tagai was furious. In his fury he killed all twelve of his crew members.
He returned them to the sky because they were Zugubals. They were placed in two groups, Usal (the Pleiades) and Utimal (Orion). He told his crew to stay in the Northern sky and keep away from him.
When the crew (the Pleiades and Orion constellations) wish to make an appearance in the Eastern sky, thunder and lightning signal their coming. Tagai hearing this dips below the western horizon.
Elder in traditional dress, with ochre body decoration and hunting spears
copyright Aboriginal Australia PL
used by permission
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