University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Coconut Grater Stool [Object of the Day #27]

July 24, 2012

1960s Coconut Shell Splitter from the Caroline Islands
1960s Coconut Shell Splitter from the Caroline Islands

This coconut grater stool was made in 1964 by local artisan Soses Tara on Nukuoro atoll in the Caroline Islands. A serrated piece of shell is attached to the front of the stool with plant fibers, and a split coconut is rubbed along the rough edge to shred the meat.  The gracefully shaped stool resembles a stylized zoomorphic figure. The minimalist style of Nukuoro carving, exemplified by this stool and by the almost abstract deity figures also made on the atoll, is characteristically Micronesian.

Penn Museum Object #65-8-1.

View this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database.

Map of the Polynesian Islands
Map of the Polynesian Islands

The Caroline Islands is an archipelago of scattered islands, mostly coral atols just north of New Guinea. Nukuoro is is a secluded coral atoll in Micronesia with a population of under 400 people.

Classically shaped atoll is part of the Caroline Islands, which stretch northeast of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific
Image from Astronaut photograph ISS013-E-28610.
Coconut shell splitter
Coconut shell splitter by flickr user
Liêm Phó Nhòm

This is an example of a coconut splitter blade from one of our flickr fans. Note the screw holes that will allow it to be drilled into any work surface… just make sure it’s not in a high-traffic spot! This tool looks pretty serious.



  • You sit on it and do what exactly?

    • PennMuseum

      Why you shred your coconut, of course! The stool might be for getting the ideal amount of torque on your coconut. I imagine no one would ever think of attaching a vegetable peeler to a stool this way.

      • !
        Shredded coconut! I never would have guess. I suppose I figured somehow a micro-plane was used. This stool now looks invaluable … if you have coconuts.

  • I believe the “splitter” shown in the lower photo is actually a shredder blade. One has to split the coconut in order to use the shredder on the meat inside.

    The photo of the stool seems to show it has a traditional shell blade, but contrary to the caption, it is not a coconut shell splitter but as the text implies, a coconut grating stool.

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