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Kava Bowl

Object Number:97-120-571
Current Location: Collections Storage
Provenience: Samoa Islands
Date Made: ca. 1840
Early Date: 1839
Late Date: 1841
Height: 11 cm
Width: 31.2 cm
Outside Diameter:31.2 cm
Credit Line:Gift of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1997
Other Number:L-120-571 - Old Museum Number
10602 - ANSP Number


Round, shallow wood bowl with four legs. Triangular lug with two holes for a hanging cord. Light-colored patina (stain) on bottom of inside, from use. Small rim crack with native plant fiber mend. Written in ink on inside: "Ava Bowl Upolu."

Kava (the crushed leaves of a pepper plant, Piper methysticum, mixed with water, was and is ceremonially consumed in many parts of Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia. Ritual surrounding kava consumption includes placement of the kava bowl in relation to participants, seating of participants, and order in which the drink is served to them. Modern Samoan kava bowls have many legs, but early examples like this one have only four.

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