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Title

Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid)

circa 1960s
collected 1965


Artist

Iatmul people

Papua New Guinea


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]


Details


Cultural origin

Iatmul people


Dates

circa 1960s
collected 1965


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

bamboo, lime


Dimensions

holder: 23.0 cm length; 5.5 cm diameter lid: 4.5 cm diameter; 0.3 cm depth


Credit

Purchased 1965


Accession number

393.1994.a-b


Artist information

Iatmul people

Works in the collection

40


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


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