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Lime Spatula

Mutuaga (1860–1920)

Date:
1900–1910
Geography:
Papua New Guinea, Suau region, Milne Bay Province
Culture:
Massim
Medium:
Wood, lime
Dimensions:
H. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Implements
Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. Oliver E. and Pamela F. Cobb, 2008
Accession Number:
2008.571
  • Description

    The identities of the individuals who created the vast majority of Oceanic sculpture
    remain unknown. A notable exception is Mutuaga, a master carver who lived and
    worked in Dagodagoisu village in the Massim region at the turn of the twentieth
    century. Mutuaga’s unique carving style is recognizable by its distinctive rendition
    of the human figure and the elegance and precision of its surface ornamentation.
    Mutuaga created objects for local use and, beginning in the 1890s, developed
    a relationship with Charles Abel of the London Missionary Society. Abel became
    Mutuaga’s patron and promoted his work among the growing numbers of
    European missionaries, traders, and visitors in the area. Lime spatulas typically
    were used to facilitate the chewing of betel nut, a mild stimulant. As this example
    is too large to have served a practical function, it may have been used locally as
    a ceremonial object or was perhaps intended for a European client.

  • Provenance

    Abel family, Wellington, New Zealand; [Unknown dealer, Wellington, New Zealand]; [Unknown dealer, Auckland, New Zealand, acquired by 1996]; [Andrew Pendergrast, Auckland, New Zealand]; John Ioannou, Melbourne, Australia; [Kirby Kallas-Lewis, Seattle, WA, from ca. 2003]; Oliver E. Cobb, Seattle, WA, until 2008

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
320339:1

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