Karrbarda (Long Yam)

“This design is about collecting karrbarda (yams). The old people use these kungarrndutj (digging sticks) to dig the yams from under the ground. They carry the kunmatj (dilly bags) on their heads for collecting bush food. These yams are purple on the saltwater side of country and inland they are white.” – Deborah Wurrkidj

Deborah Wurrkidj is a Kuninjku artist from the Kurulk clan whose country lies around the outstation of Mumeka in central Arnhem Land. In this design, she has depicted Kun-madj (dilly bag) and karrbarda (long yam). Women dig up long yams with kungarrndutj (digging sticks) and they are then cooked in the ashes of the fire to be eaten.

Kun-madj, or dilly bag, is a large woven collecting basket. These large bags are often made from the vine ‘Malasia scandens’, a strong pliable plant that grows along the floor and into the canopy of monsoon vine thickets. The bags are used to collect heavy foods, such as fish caught in conical fish traps or large collections of yams. They can also be made from Pandanus spiralis, a plant that grows in many areas of Arnhem Land.