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Bruce Frank Primitive Art
New York City, NY
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Betel Mortar

Murik Lakes, Coastal Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
19th-Early 20th century

Provenance: Old American collection

Archaic in style, this Betel Mortar is a unique example from Murk Lakes, in the East Sepik Province, a region yielding fewer objects compared to the Middle Sepik. This small, cup like object would have been used to aid in chewing betel nut and was also a mark of secular and religious authority. The bowl of the mortar is supported by an ancestral or spirit figure, depicted in a crouched position, with large, deeply set eyes and geometric decoration. The surface of the mortar is well worn, suggesting heavy use.

Betel Mortar

Murik Lakes, Coastal Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
19th-Early 20th century

Provenance: Old American collection

Archaic in style, this Betel Mortar is a unique example from Murk Lakes, in the East Sepik Province, a region yielding fewer objects compared to the Middle Sepik. This small, cup like object would have been used to aid in chewing betel nut and was also a mark of secular and religious authority. The bowl of the mortar is supported by an ancestral or spirit figure, depicted in a crouched position, with large, deeply set eyes and geometric decoration. The surface of the mortar is well worn, suggesting heavy use.

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