Manyawok (Cheeky Yam)
This design depicts the cheeky yam, which is found on the artist’s country, near the outstation of Mumeka in central Arnhem Land. Yams are an important bush food that are collected during the wet season.
Unlike other yams that can be eaten roasted, the cheeky yam can be poisonous if not properly prepared. The preparation process of the yam traditionally takes two days. Firstly, the yams are dug up with a digging stick and boiled over a fire. They are then peeled and sliced into thin strips, which are placed in a special dillybag woven by women from pandanus leaves. The yam-laden dillybag is then strung from an overhanging branch into a river, so the bag just touches the flowing fresh water. The cheeky yams are left like this overnight to allow the running water to remove the toxins. The next morning, people return and collect the dillybag, and leave the yam pieces in full sunlight to dry out. Finally, when the yam pieces have dried in the sun for a day, they are ready to eat.