AN ABELAM SPINNING TOP
Provenance: Father Höltker, Steijler Mission SVD, Sankt Augustin, Germany
Private collection Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam
These simple and beautifully ornamented spinning tops are cut from a section of coconut shell with a stick pushed through the eye. The inside of each top is carved and decorated according to the whim of the maker. These tops are primarily made as a game, though they do have a ceremonial function. Boys and young men are encouraged to spin them at yam planting time in the hope that the stalks of the yam vines will spiral like the tops and grow strong and tall.
In some villages, these tops are also used by adult players to resolve inter-clan and inter-village disputes. In these cases, the men from each side throw their tops into a designated area, and the side with the most tops within the area is declared the victor.
Abelam, Maprik mountains, Papua New Guinea. Good condition.
Coconut shell, 1935-1938. 12 cm diameter.