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Bruce Frank Primitive Art
New York City, NY
+1 917 733 9589

Betel Mortar

Middle Sepik River region,
Papua New Guinea
Early 20th c.

Previous Collection: Old American collection

Wooden betel mortars are fairly common in New Guinea, but this one is special. It has two primary beaked faces most likely that of a hornbill or bird.  The incorporation of this zoomorphic element with a human face is a powerful method of representing the relationship between ancestors and their animal spirits.  The entire surface of the mortar is skillfully adorned with clan designs and symbols, including numerous stylized human figures.  It has a wonderful handled surface with most of the red ochre pigment still intact. The cavity inside the mortar is heavily encrusted, showing extensive signs of use.

Betel Mortar

Middle Sepik River region,
Papua New Guinea
Early 20th c.

Previous Collection: Old American collection

Wooden betel mortars are fairly common in New Guinea, but this one is special. It has two primary beaked faces most likely that of a hornbill or bird.  The incorporation of this zoomorphic element with a human face is a powerful method of representing the relationship between ancestors and their animal spirits.  The entire surface of the mortar is skillfully adorned with clan designs and symbols, including numerous stylized human figures.  It has a wonderful handled surface with most of the red ochre pigment still intact. The cavity inside the mortar is heavily encrusted, showing extensive signs of use.

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