Betel Mortar, Lower Sepik River Area Papua New Guinea Early 20th C
This small mortar is from the Lower Sepik River Area of Papua New Guinea. Betel Mortars & lime spatulas are some of the most beautiful small scale artworks made on the Island of New Guinea. This small mortar is carved in the form of two back to back standing ancestor figures. Ancestor figures are a common motif used for Betel Nut Mortars. Used for crushing Betel Nuts for chewing, betel is the seed of the Areca Palm or (Areca catechu). When chewed with a type of leaf and lime made from crushed & burned shells it produces a mild stimulate like smoking tobacco. The mortars were used by old men who could no longer chew hard Betel Nut, they would smash them into a paste for consuming. Often people lost all or part of their teeth from chewing Betel Nut regularly.
Provenance: Ex John Friede Collection NY. Ex Todd Barlin Oceanic Art Collection.
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