Conical coral food pounder for mashing taro roots to make poi.
Food Pounder Cut From Coral, Penu, Austral Islands, Central Polynesia. Penu food pounders of this horned, concavely conical form are found with several variations in style throughout Central and Eastern Polynesia. The design is highly ergonomic - adapted over centuries to fit the hand perfectly and allow exactly the right kind of mechanical action to be applied to the food in the wooden bowl. The selection of a heavy slab of coral from the fringing reef created a working surface of regular pits and ridges that mashed the cooked root vegetables quickly and easily. In general, such pounders were used to make poi, a pudding of mashed taro, yams or breadfruit, moistened and sweetened with coconut milk, and steamed on hot rocks in an earth oven. Coralline limestone. Early 19th Century. Purchased at Stevens’ Auction Rooms in 1910.