Large ladle with a bowl made of coconut, and a wooden handle. The handle has a triangular-shaped midsection, and is topped with an openwork triangular design and a circle.

Ladle, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. Formerly known as the Admiralty Islands, the large island of Manus or one of its companions to the north of the New Guinea mainland were the original source of this interesting object. The domestic tools of everyday life in the Pacific a hundred years ago are not very commonly displayed in museum collections; we far more often encounter weapons, masks, clothing and so on. A nice feature of this ladle is the way it combines a completely natural form – the shell of a large coconut – with a carefully carved wooden handle. This could very easily have looked awkward or simply not worked, but the ladle looks very much like a single cohesive tool, and the two pieces are as securely joined today as they were in the late 19th. Wood, coconut shell. Late 19th Century. Formerly in the private collection of the Dowager Countess of Dunmore.

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