South Pacific, Polynesia or Hawaii, ca. 19th century CE. Made of a smoothed grey-green basalt, with a rounded base and a slightly pronounced handle, this style of poi pounder is known as "knobbed". Size: 3.3" W x 6.25" H (8.4 cm x 15.9 cm)
Poi pounders, alongside adzes, were the most important stone tools in pre-contact Polynesia and Hawaii (Europeans introduced steel weapons). They are used for pounding cooked taro root into po, a stable of the diet. Taro root was steamed in an earthen oven, peeled using shells, and placed onto a slab of wood to be pounded. The pounded results were blended with water into a highly nutritious paste. Traditional calabash bowls were used as containers to hold poi mixtures, and traveling royalty were accompanied by their own poi maker, with his or her own poi-making implements like this one.
Provenance: Ex-Kalman Collection, Arcadia, CA; Ex-Jules Berman Collection, acquired before 1972.
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