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Dhanguniya (Yolngu name)
Ipomoea graminea (Latin name)
'grass-leaf yam' (common name)
This plant belongs to the Dhuwa moiety
Cultural information about this plant:
When I was 12 years old my first language was Anindilyakwa. I had forgotten my Yolngu language. I saw this Ngatha (food) following behind my mother, the old lady named Djaparri. I first ate this food on Wangurryarrikpa (Woodah Island) at Yirrinyarra and Nengarri. We used to go there and stay a while just to harvest and eat this food. The leaves are a bit like ganay' (long yam) or manmunga, but manmunga takes too long to dig whereas this one is much quicker. The leaves are bigger than ganay' and it is usually found on wet marsh ground where the plant spreads itself widely. It tastes like sweet potato, cassava or bäwang and can be pounded by a bilma (clapstick) to make it soft before it is eaten.
I am so sad that no one eats this food any longer. It is healthy. I know this food. I can still taste it. I remember what it looks like from when I was 12, collecting it with my mother and cooking it in the underground oven using the red ant hill nest to make the oven hot.
This food is murnyang for the other food, especially meat like turtle, tortoise and fish. Murnyang' means a complementary carbohydrate accompaniment to merrpal' (protein). We gathered them in the kurrajong string woven bags known as gay'wu until they were full and then just used wayku or watjumungu, containers made of paperbark on the spot.
Manikaymirr dhuwal : ngatha. Wuyalwu ga Gandjalalawu. Ngarrak Märi'mirringu Wanawalakuymirr Marrakulu ga Marrangu (this is a plant that is held in the sacred songs which relate the journey of Wuyal, the honey hunter, and his poison cousin Gandjalala). It can be found at Wayawu and in all places that are Lurrtha Wänga. Lurrtha Wänga describes places touched by the songline of Wuyal. There are different varieties of this plant which the Yolngu see as separate but which non-Yolngu see as the same species. The dhanguniya tuber is big, fat and short. The ganay' tuber is smaller and shorter than dhanguniya. Gomili grows only near the sacred site of Yalangbara. Mawuka grows only on Bremer Island and comes from those songs. Duynga might be another name for dhanguniya.
(Mulkun Wirrpanda, 2017)
Botanical information about this plant:
- a perennial underground tuber with annual climbing stems; tubers vary greatly in shape and size
- grass-like leaves to around 15 centimetres in length
- white flowers with a narrow corolla tube; open at night and on cloudy days; during periods of sunshine, wind themselves shut and are hard to see
- grows in open woodlands and forests across the top of Australia, north of Larrimah.
A botanical painting in natural pigments and ochres on eucalyptus stringy bark, depicting the native plant species 'Dha[ng]uniya'. The painting features a brown, stylised heart shaped tuber form with branches protruding from the top, and has a cross hatched background. The colours used are brown, red-brown, yellow-ochre, white and black. On the reverse of the bark, the partially damaged number '[4161G?]' is handwritten in black ink, and there is a 'BUKU-LARRNGAY MULKA' adhesive label attached, including the artist's name and other details.
The collection consists of nine larrakitj, or painted hollow logs, and 113 bark paintings painted between 2011 and 2014 by Mulkun Wirrpanda, a senior female Yolngu artist at Yirrkala in north east Arnhem Land. These works are a product of Wirrpanda's interest in documenting the ecology of her country following her participation in a joint project with non-Indigeous artists, printmakers and academics, charting the country and yam supply at Blue Mud Bay.
The works in this collection provide a unique visual record of Yolngu knowledge of plants and food-bearing and medicinal species. Wirrpanda depicts aspects of the plants' life cycle across numerous works, including the gestational period through to fruiting and the interconnections between the food source and the extensive freshwater flood plains and rivers, beaches, sandhills, salt flats and estuaries in her Yolngu country.
W 225mm x H 683mm x D 28mm