Manme (Bush foods)

Kunwinjku people sometimes call the bush their “supermarket”. It contains everything from staple foods to snacks, medicines to raw materials. This bold, cheerful design celebrates manme, plant foods. Bordering the design are two hairy tubers which are carbohydrate staples, karrbarda (long yams, Dioscorea transversa) and mankinjdjek (“cheeky yam”, Dioscorea bulbifera). Cheeky yams must be finely cut and rinsed before cooking. This can be done in a river using a loosely woven djerrh or dilly bag, as shown in this design. Arnhem Land abounds in fruits, especially in the “build-up” and early wet seasons. The round fruits shown here are mankurndalh (Vitex glabrata or “black plum”) and mandak (Persoonia falcata or “milky plum”). Many fruits are also used medicinally, including manngukmanj (cheesefruit tree, Morinda citrifolia), the large lumpy fruits in this design. Despite tasting like old cheese, this fruit is high in vitamins and can be eaten as a remedy for colds. The clover-like shape in this design is in fact the open seed pod of mankarralarlhmanj (the peanut tree, Sterculia quadrifida) filled with tasty and nourishing nuts.

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