Rainbow snakes are perhaps the most emblematic figures of Australian Aboriginal myths. However, similar world-creating giant serpents associated with rainbows, floods, the underworld, women and shamans are found in the cosmologies of indigenous peoples across the world.
Drawing upon long-term ethnographic fieldwork carried out with the Batek – a hunter-gatherer group of Peninsular Malaysia – Dr Tacey will discuss the rainbow serpent in Batek creation myths, taboos, and cosmological landscapes. He will also look at similarities between Australian, Malaysian and Australian Aboriginal versions of this ubiquitous entity.
The talk will focus on the rainbow snake as an enforcer of laws and moral codes embedded in the landscape, and on how shamans interact with it and attempt to control its power to prevent catastrophes in their local environment and faraway places. Ivan concludes by discussing the ways indigenous peoples’ religions and lifeways have helped preserve extremely high levels of biodiversity for future generations, and why these landscapes should gain international legal protection.
Date: Wednesday 23 February 2022
Venue: The Levinsky Gallery, Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth
Ticket information: free admission