This 110 XPF stamp issue forms the fourth and final part of the series of stamps dedicated to seasonal yam farming cycles. All the stamps in the series, begun in 2015, have been designed by Kanak artist Paula Boi-Gony.
Yams (Dioscorea alata) are revered by the Kanak people as a sacred plant seen as the source of all life. The first yam farming cycle or “Maxat” runs from May to July and is the season when fields are prepared for planting; during the second cycle or “Horat”, from August to October, the tubers are planted in the earth and begin to sprout, while the third cycle or “Wênit”, lasting from November to January, is the period when the yams are staked and fields and gardens are weeded and tidied.
“Kuyiuk huuda” is the final season in the yam farming cycle, when the parent plants lose their leaves and shrivel, the sign that the precious new young yams have reached maturity. All the clans making up each tribe gather for festivals of ritual celebrations to mark the harvesting of the first new yams.
This is the season when mourning rites come to an end, prohibitions are removed and people may once again go into the fields to harvest the first new young yams. These will be ceremonially presented to clan chiefs and ancestors.
Then, when the young deer grow their soft horns and the fruit ripens on guava and mandarin orange trees, it will be time to harvest the full crop of ripe yams. The most perfect specimens will carefully stored, ready to be planted in the rich earth during the next yam farming cycle.