This 75 XPF stamp issue designed by Kanak artist Paula Boi-Gony forms part three of the series of stamps dedicated to the seasonal yam farming cycles.
It follows two preceding stamp issues: “Maxat” in 2015, representing the season from May to July when the fields are prepared for planting, and “Horat” in 2016, referring to the season from August to October, when the tubers are planted in the earth and begin to sprout. OPT-NC now presents “Wênit”, the third yam cycle from November to January, when the yams are staked and the fields are weeded and tidied.
During this period of the year when, as evoked so strikingly in Paula Boi-Gony’s design, the Pleiades star cluster is aligned north/south in the sky, the dragonflies herald the coming of the rains and the Frigatebirds signal the return of the warm winds (and the cyclone season), the staked yam stalks cease growing.
Soon the leaves will turn yellow and the parent yam will shrivel, giving way to the young tubers: this is “Wênit” - New Life. Farmers will henceforth cease their labours on the yam fields, which must remain undisturbed for fear of hindering the growth of the precious new tubers. The Kanaks describe it as “letting the yams go”. The farmers turn instead to planting taros, which begin their own cycle.
And then, from February to April, comes “Kuyiuk huuda”, the fourth and final season of the yam cycle, marked by a festival to celebrate the harvesting of the first new yams, ceremonially presented to clan chiefs and ancestors. Soon after, the farmers get on with harvesting the full crop of ripe yams.