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Rare 19th C. Palau Island Wood Poi Pounder

Oceania, Micronesia, Palau Island, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. A dark wood poi pounder of conical form, topped by a round, disc-shaped handle, with a rectangular projection from the top. Incised in the top is "J..E" possibly referencing the initials of the person who made and/or used the tool. Poi pounders, alongside adzes, were the most important stone tools in pre-contact Polynesia and Hawaii (when steel weapons were introduced). They are used for pounding cooked taro root into po, 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. Size: 3.2" W x 6.55" H (8.1 cm x 16.6 cm)

Condition: Rich patina on surface, with some cracks around the pounding surface as a result of use.

Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection

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