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Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid)

circa 1960s
collected 1965


Iatmul people

Papua New Guinea

Alternate image of Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid) by Iatmul people
Alternate image of Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid) by Iatmul people
Alternate image of Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid) by Iatmul people
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Aibom Village Chambri Lake Middle Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Iatmul people
    circa 1960s
    collected 1965
    Media category
    Materials used
    bamboo, lime
    holder: 23.0 cm length; 5.5 cm diameter lid: 4.5 cm diameter; 0.3 cm depth
    Purchased 1965
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Iatmul people

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The chewing of betel nut (Areca catechu) as a mild stimulant is widespread across the Sepik. In the past, bamboo containers, or 'yaavukaain', were used to store 'kwayavu' (slaked lime), which is made from burned and powdered freshwater shells and chewed with the nut. Lime is carried to the mouth using a 'taph', or lime stick. 'Yaavukaain' are usually elaborately decorated, their surfaces incised using the sharpened teeth of 'mabma' (cuscus) or 'kwa'ji' (flying fox), or shells. The lid, or 'yaavukaaintaak', of this 'yaavukaain' is also incised with designs.

    Iatmul-speaking Aibom artists and Chambri artists were renowned for the production of decorated 'yaavukaain', which were traded up and down the Sepik until plastic containers replaced them. They are rarely made today.

    [entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 6]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 45. cat.no. 72; 'Lime holder, with lid. Chambri Lake. Bamboo with burnt decoration. 23h. Collected 1965'

Other works by Iatmul people

See all 44 works