An image of Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid)

Iatmul people

(Papua New Guinea  – )

Yaavukaain (lime holder with lid)

Not on display
Further information

The chewing of betel nut (Areca catechu) as a mild stimulant is widespread across the Sepik. In the past, bamboo containers, or 'yaavukaain', were used to store 'kwayavu' (slaked lime), which is made from burned and powdered freshwater shells and chewed with the nut. Lime is carried to the mouth using a 'taph', or lime stick. 'Yaavukaain' are usually elaborately decorated, their surfaces incised using the sharpened teeth of 'mabma' (cuscus) or 'kwa'ji' (flying fox), or shells. The lid, or 'yaavukaaintaak', of this 'yaavukaain' is also incised with designs.

Iatmul-speaking Aibom artists and Chambri artists were renowned for the production of decorated 'yaavukaain', which were traded up and down the Sepik until plastic containers replaced them. They are rarely made today.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 6]

Place of origin
Aibom Village, Chambri Lake, Middle Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Iatmul people
circa 1960s
collected 1965
bamboo, lime
holder: 23.0 cm length; 5.5 cm diameter lid: 4.5 cm diameter; 0.3 cm depth
Purchased 1965
Accession number