Image size 49 x 38cm Paper size 76 x 59cm
Buḻwutja (Dhuwa, Cycnogeton dubium) is a water yam and described In the artist’s words the following:
‘This story is from a long time ago. People travelled around from place to place to hunt for ŋatha (food).
First we dig in the water for Buḻwutja. Then we make a fire. When the fire burns down we take the coals to one side and put sand on top of them. Then the hot sand cooks the Buḻwutja.
When you pick the Bu’wutja it is white from the water. It tastes sweet.
We have eaten this ŋatha for a long time. New generation always goes to the shop to get shop food.’
Bulwutja described in the words of Mulkun Wirrpanda in the book Miḏawarr | Harvest that was published by her and John Wolseley in 2017:
‘This is one of the plants which belong to the Dhuḏi-Djapu as well as the Djapu. It is a plant which is sung by my own clan. It grows in and around the billabongs and swampy areas. The plants grow in clumps after the rains, and you pull them out in clumps. You cook it underground or on coals and then mash it into a blackish grey paste that is tasty and nutritious. This paste can also be baked into a bread.
Buḻwutja grows on the Garaŋarri floodplain, south of Dhuruputjpi, and also at Lumatjpi, near Yilpara where the songs tell of the spirit woman Marrnyili. Men sing the songs of this food entangled with the identity of this place. They sing the journey of this woman through the landscape:
Mokuywa Ngatha Marrnyiliwa
Buway buway buway
Marrtji ṉämbarra ŋupan ḻarrumany.
There they go, the spirit women Marrnyili
walking walking walking
with their knees and their elbows lifting high in the air
this way and that threading through the paperbark saplings
searching for their food’