Lime spatula

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Registration number
2912
Item name
Lime spatula 
Category
Drug/Medicine
Sculpture/Carving
 
Indigenous name
 
Maker
 
Associated cultural group
 
Place
Pacific > Papua New Guinea > Milne Bay Province > Alotau > Massim style
Map
Collector
Unrecorded 
Acquisition date
September 28, 1953 
Acquisition method
Donated by Miss E. M. Boddington 
Raw material
Wood; shell; twine
Dimensions
H: W: 20 mm L: 350 mm D: 3 mm Circum:

Description

Lime spatula carved from dark wood with an oval handle and a square loop carved at the end. Two pieces of twine threaded with pink shell discs are attached to the loop. The handle is incised on both sides with two rows of crescents and a band of crescents are incised at the midsection, some filled with lime. The blade is flat with a rounded end and tapers toward the handle. Length of the spatula without the shell is 265 mm. Registration number 2912 marked on blade in pencil.

Research notes

Betel nut chewing is a pastime known in parts of Asia and the Pacific where betel nut, the seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu), is chewed with betel leaves and lime made from burnt shell and coral. Used frequently as a mild stimulant and for medicinal purposes, the betel nut stains user's saliva, lips and teeth red. The highly carved spatulas are accessories showing rank and are often used for ornament only [ref H. Beran, Betel-chewing Equipment of East New Guinea].

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