A RARE MASSIM BETEL NUT MORTAR
Provenance: Private Belgium collection
Collection Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam
This wooden mortar is part of the betel nut chewing paraphernalia of the Massim region of southeastern Papua New Guinea. The mortar has been used to crush the required ingredients – betel nuts, mustard plants and quicklime – that make the chewing quid. Chewing betel nut is a social activity, carried out when two or more people sit down to talk or when doing communal work. It encourages conversations and momentarily excites the mind and the body.
The presence of carved anthropomorphic elements with animal like features in betel nut chewing equipment points to its potential uses of black magic.The artists of the Tami Islands, a group of small islands off the eastern tip of the Huon Peninsula, were the most prolific carvers in northeast New Guinea.
This mortar is a beautiful example of their talents.
Tami Islands, Morobe province, Papua New Guinea
wood, 16 x 6 cm