Yam cycles (Horat)
This new 120 XPF stamp issue, designed by Kanak artist Paula Boi-Gony, forms part of the series of stamps launched in 2015, dedicated to the cycles of yam cultivation.
Following the first yam farming cycle or “Maxat”, featured last year, which corresponds to the period when the fields are prepared for planting (May to July), the theme for this stamp is the “Horat” cycle, when the tubers are planted in the earth and begin to sprout (August to October).
For thousands of years, the yam farming sequence, heralded by seasonal changes in local plants and wildlife, has governed the social and cultural life of each Kanak clan. The same traditional farming methods are passed down from generation to generation to perpetuate the cultivation of the yam, revered as a sacred plant.
When the twigs of the gaïac trees become dry and snap easily, when the lilacs and mango trees bloom in the mountain range, and when the kingfishers fly inland from the coast to find shelter in the mountains, it is time to plant the first “heads” (the upper parts) of the yams from the previous crop, destined to bring forth the new yams.
Then, little by little, the stems and leaves appear above ground while the tubers begin to form in the earth below. And in October, when the flying foxes enfold their pups in their wings, when the Purple Coral trees are once more in bloom, and when the kingfishers fly back to the coast, the “Horat” cycle will end and the “Wênit” cycle will begin, the period when the yams are staked and the fields and gardens are weeded and tidied.