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, if not properly prepared, the cheeky yam can be poisonous. 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. The pieces of cheeky yam are then placed in a special woven dillybag made by women from pandanus leaves. The yam-laden dillybag is then strung into a river from an overhanging branch, so the bag just touches the running fresh water. The cheeky yams are left overnight so that running water removes their 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.