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Lot 0171A
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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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, very minor nicks to handle, shoulder, and pounding face, and small areas of light fading, otherwise intact and very good. Light earthen deposits throughout. Old inventory sticker on pounding face.

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20th C. Hawaiian Black Basalt Poi Pounder

Estimate $1,300 - $1,600Jun 21, 2018