Hawaiian Islands, ca. first half of the 20th century CE. A hefty and sizeable pestle, hand-carved from porous black basalt, meant for pounding taro root into poi. The tool has a knob-shaped handle, a rounded shoulder, and a pounding surface which gradually widens from the neck down. Both the neck and pounding face are incredibly smooth to the touch as a result of repeated use. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 4.25" W x 6" H (10.8 cm x 15.2 cm); 7.375" H (18.7 cm) on included custom stand.
Poi pounders, alongside adzes, were the most important stone tools in Hawaii (Europeans introduced steel weapons). They are used for pounding cooked taro root into poi, 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.
A similar example hammered for EUR 5,625 ($6,577.41) at Christie's, Paris African and Oceanic Arts Auction (sale 15050, November 22, 2017, lot 27): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/pilon-poi-poi-pounder-hawaii-6105336-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=6105336&sid=0baad5f3-9569-4479-b14b-f7c773d743f7
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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