This is an Old Hand Carved Double Figure Wood Figurative Dep Dep Betel Mortar or Paint Dish from Lower Sepik River of Papua New Guinea. These dishes or cups are carved out of a single piece of wood with clan designs and ancestor figures. Peoples throughout the Sepik region use betel nut, the fruit of the Areca palm, which is chewed with lime made from burnt shells or coral and other substances to produce a mild stimulant effect. Sepik peoples create a variety of betel nut chewing accessories. This cup like figure is a betel nut mortar, used by individuals who have lost their teeth to aid in chewing betel nut. When chewing, the individual periodically places the nut and a small quantity of lime in the mortar and crushes it with a pestle to release the active ingredients before placing it back in the mouth. Some betel nut mortars, carried by male elders, served as marks of secular and religious authority, and are adorned with images of spirits, ancestors, or other supernatural beings, some also had magical properties. The dishes were also used to mix paint when the were doing their body and face painting decorations. All individually carved and used by the older men. The men would do the mixing of the paint and it would be the Deities and or Ancestors holding up the the Dep Dep dish to protect and enhance its purpose. This Betel Nut or Paint dish would be a wonderful addition to your collection. T
Shows age, wood is weathered, loss of color, but overall in good condition.
Betel Nut Dish
9 1/4" tall
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