Yawk Yawk are female water spirits that closely resemble the European idea of mermaids. Half spirit, half fish, they entice unwary fishermen beneath the water of the lagoons that are their domain throughout Arnhem Land. They may have long hair like reeds of trailing water weed and can take on the features of fish or body of a snake. When fully grown Yawk Yawk spirits can leave their water hole to forage for food by changing their fishtails into legs to walk on dry land or assume the shape of a dragonfly to fly. Yawk Yawk figures are also closely associated with Ngaloyd, the Rainbow Serpent and can be associated with sorcery. The clothing worn by the Yawk Yawk features the Bush Melon, an original artwork by Betty Mbitjana. For thousands of years, Aboriginal people were hunters and gatherers living entirely on the abundant wild food also known as bush tucker. Nowadays many of them still eat this traditional food but they no longer rely on it for survival. The Bush Melon is a sweet bush tucker that once grew in abundance at Utopia. As well as providing water, these melons are a good source of some essential vitamins and minerals. Betty’s mother and other women would gather the fruit to be eaten at once, or to be stored for times when bush tucker was scarce. The Aboriginal iconography in this work refers to awelye (body paint) associated with the women’s ceremony and the bush melon. The U-shape with lines represents women and other lines represent body painting markings. The large circles represent a ceremonial site and small circles represent the bush melon itself. The dotted areas are seed pods rom the bush melon.Just like the Likanaya, this resource is unique in its ability to bring creativity, culture and respect together into a fun and play based learning resource for all ages, genders and abilities. Made from cotton.
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