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Fine Old New Guinea Massim Lime Spatulas Milne Bay Provence Papua New Guinea,19th Century


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Size Heights 30-41 cm
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Fine Old New Guinea Massim Lime Spatulas Milne Bay Provence Papua New Guinea,19th Century

The utensils made for chewing betel nut are some of the most beautiful smaller-scale carvings made in New Guinea. Lime Spatulas are usually carved from a dark native ebony hardwood with the finials usually depicting a stylized human ancestor figure in profile.

These six lime spatulas show the high quality of aesthetics that Massim Master Carvers could achieve working on this scale. After carving & polishing the artist would put white lime into the incised designs to highlight them.

Lime Spatulas were used for chewing betel nuts by dipping the end into powdered lime (crushed & burnt sea shells) & licking it off as you put a Betel Nut from the Acacia Palm to chew together, the lime diffuses the alkaloids in the Acia Nuts. In the Massim Culture chewing of Betel Nut is an important daily ritual. Betel Chewers would have a lime gourd & spatula for dipping into the lime, older men with poor teeth would also have a small mortar and pestle for crushing the nuts into a mush where easy to eat.

Many of the most beautiful Massim Lime Spatulas were made by Master Carvers for use only by important Chiefly Persons. The motifs are part of the Massim belief system & spirituality

All six of these Lime Spatulas were kept by me over the last 40 years that I had been collecting them as they showed the great skill and imagination the carvers had. Number D has been identified by the world-renowned Massim Art Scholar Dr. Harry Beran as “ THE MASTER OF THE CONCAVE BACK “

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art 

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