Bush Potato or Yam Dreaming
The tubers of the bush potato or desert yam plant (Ipomoea costata) are a staple food of Aboriginal people throughout Central Australia and the Western Desert. This fire-resistant plant grows in sand plain and spinifex terrain and can be harvested at any time of the year. Increase ceremonies are performed to ensure the productivity of the desert yam, one of a number of vegetal spirit beings associated with specific sites that are represented in early Papunya paintings.
Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri's Yam Spirit Dreaming 1972 shows many human figures seemingly germinating from and being fed by the branching tuberous roots of this vital food source. The brilliantly observed plant structure metamorphoses into spirit beings, warriors and women with coolamons. Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, by contrast, silhouettes the roots and leaves of the plant and sites associated with the Dreaming against a bright yellow ground.