Lime spatula

Registration number
Item name
Lime spatula 
Indigenous name
Associated cultural group
Pacific > Papua New Guinea > Unknown > P.N.G. unspecified
Mr Laurie 
Acquisition date
August 18, 1949 
Acquisition method
Donated by Mrs Laurie 
Raw material
Bone; beads; shell; string
H: W: 23 mm L: 320 mm D: 4 mm Circum:


Lime spatula carved from bone. The spatula is flat and slightly curved; the handle has a rounded, perforated end with five strands of red and white beads, and pink shell discs, attached with string. The blade has a rounded end and widens toward the handle. Length without beads is 226 mm. Registration number 3543 marked on handle in black on white base.

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].

This lime spatula is part of a group of items donated to the Museum by Mrs Laurie, whose husband collected them when he was working as a clergyman in Papua New Guinea.

Go to top