Lime spatula

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Registration number
4323
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
March 15, 1950 
Acquisition method
Donated by E. G. Gronvold 
Raw material
Wood
Dimensions
H: W: 30 mm L: 320 mm D: 25 mm Circum:

Description

Lime spatula carved from dark wood with a handle in the form of a seated human figure. The figure's torso is cylindrical and elongated; the head is incised with circles, spirals and zigzags; and two bands of zigzags are carved in relief below the figure and at the figure's waist. The blade has a roughly carved, rounded end and tapers slightly toward the handle. Registration number 4323 marked on handle in white and on blade in black.

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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