Undying Tales: Endangered Creatures & Mythology is about highlighting endangered species from around the world, and the mythologies and legends that humanity has woven through time around these creatures. We are inextricably linked to the natural world, both in our physical being, as well as mentally in the tales we tell and that have lasted through the centuries.

The project started in October 2019 with an art challenge daily-drawing list, but I hope to turn it into an ongoing event with official daily prompt lists each October, but also occasional mini lists throughout the year.

I invite any artist to join me in this celebration of nature in using these prompt lists, and hashtag #undyingtales

1 Southern Brown Bandicoot

2 Leaf-Scaled Seasnake

3 Southern Emu-Wren

4 Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

5 Mountain Pygmy Possum

 

* See the Art *

* Past Undying Tales October 2019 List *


I will be creating one ink drawing for each of these creatures in February (one per week!)

100% profit from the sale of the five original drawings will go various environmental charities.

-click here- for the list of charities that Undying Tales supports.

Contact stephlaw@gmail.com if you are interested in purchasing one of the available originals, or to let me know if you want to be put on the daily mailing notification that will be sent out when each drawing is done, or for future Undying Tales drawings.

Southern Brown Bandicoot

 

Highlighted species: Isoodon obesulus obesulus

The ancestor of the bandicoots was a being named Karora. In the beginning, there was only darkness and night, and Karora slept in the basin of a waterless soak. In the soil above his head there were red flowers and grasses and a sacred pole. As Karora lay there, dreaming and thinking, wishing and desiring, bandicoots sprang from his navel and armpits, streaming forth as the first day broke and the sun rose into the sky.

Karora burst through the crust of land, and water from honeysuckle buds filled the soak. He was hungry and so he seized two of the bandicoots and cooked and ate them. When he fell asleep that night, a bullroarer emerged from his armpit and when Karora awoke, the bullroarer grew into a young man. This son of Karora danced with him, in the first ceremony.

 

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Leaf-Scaled Seasnake

 

Status: Critically Endangered

Highlighted species: Aipysurus foliosquama

Range:Endemic to Ashmore Reef and Hibernia Reef NW coast of Australia

Rainbow Serpent was the name given in 1926 by an anthropologist Professor Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, to a common myth and ancient motif that is shared by many Aboriginal Australian sub-cultures.

It is an enormous snake who lives within the deepest waterholes of Australia's waterways, and descended from a greater being who resides in the Milky Way and marked by a dark streak among the stars. A rainbow arcing across the sky is the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to the next.

The Rainbow Serpent is a creator and life-bringer, because of the association of water, essence of life, but also can be destruction when angered, and is responsible for both regenerative rains, as well as storms and floods. Before the time of creation, the Rainbow Serpent slumbered in the earth, and upon awakening pushed to the surface, creating mountains and valleys.

 

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Southern Emu-Wren

 

Status:Critically Endangered

Highlighted species: Stipiturus malachurus halmaturinus

Range: Southern Australia

The Oozlum bird is a Legendary bird of Australian and British folktales. It is a quirky creature who for vanity's sake, flies backwards in order to admire its own tail beautiful feathers. A side benefit of flying backwards is that it can see where it has been with much more clarity, though it doesn't know where it is going. If startled however, it takes off in a spiral of circles until disappearing completely.

 

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Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

 

Status: Vulnerable

Highlighted species: Ornithoptera richmondia

Long ago, in the Dreamtime, when the world was young, there was no death yet. One morning Cockatoo slipped from a branch and fell on his head. The animals gathered around thinking this to be some antics, but when Cockatoo did not rise, they were puzzled.

As the animals discussed, the Spirits came and took Cockatoo to the sky. The animals were even more confused by this, and at last decided that one of their number should follow into the sky to see what had befallen their friend. Caterpillar was the only one to volunteer, and so a cloud of caterpillars streamed up into the Winter sky.

The animals waited and searched, but saw no sign of the caterpillars, until Spring arrived, and suddenly, transformed Caterpillars in the form of Butterflies returned to the world, bringing word that a similar transformation had come upon Cockatoo.

This is why caterpillars spend the winter tucked away in coccons, waiting for the warmth of spring when they can burst forth with their wings and bright colors.

 

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Mountain Pygmy Possum

 

Status: Was thought Extinct until rediscovery in 1966, but fires might have critically damaged the population

Highlighted species: Burramys parvus

The Possum - by Maybanke Anderson (1845 - 1927) and published in Australia Songs for Australian Children

Little 'poss, pretty 'poss, much I want to know,
When the weather's wet and cold, where do 'possums go?
Hey, 'possum' ho, 'possum, tell me, tell me true,
When the pleasant summer's gone, what do 'possums do?

I've a nest, little girl, in a hollow tree,
And I wear a winter coat, snug as snug can be.
Warm there, dry there, sleeping safe and sound,
I put my nose between my toes and curl my tail around.

Little 'poss, pretty 'poss, I should like to see
What you have for dinner when you're living in a tree.
Hey, 'possum; ho, possum, tell me what you eat,
Shall I give you bread and jam, or would you like some meat?

Little boy, little boy, if I say with you,
I must have green leaves to eat, and bread and biscuit too.
Green leaves, gum leaves, they're the food for me;
But I'd rather scamper off and eat them from the tree.

Little 'poss, pretty 'poss, though the trees are tall,
You can jump from limb to limb and never, never fall.
Hey 'possum; ho, 'possum, tell me, tell me true,
When the branches sway about, what do 'possums do?

Little boy, see my claws, they're sharp and strong;
I can stick them in the bark as I run along.
Fine claws, good claws, and if they should fail,
I can spring from bough to bough and hold on by my tail.

 

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