In this painting, Carmen Jones Petyarre depicts the fine grassy foliage of the wild onion (Cyperus bulbosus), an important bush food in Central Australia.
Known in other areas as yalka, nalgoo or onion grass, Carmen's people call it irreyakwerr. Women of Carmen's country, Arawerr, own a Dreaming story for the irreyakwerr in which they carry out ceremonies to demonstrate respect for its origins and ensure its productivity.
The irreyakwerr is one of the most important food plants occurring in Central Australia, growing throughout the area and producing bulbs (onions) all year round except for a few weeks after rain when they germinate to form new plants. The onions have a dark papery skin that covers their white inner flesh. The onions need to be peeled before being consumed.
Artist: Carmen Jones Petyarr
Skin name: Petyarr (also spelled Petyarre)
Language group: Alyawarr
Area: Utopia Region, Central Australia