This is a hand-carved wooden mortar. Shaped like a large, pedestalled cup, the bowl portion is very thick measuring slightly more than a half of an inch at its thickest point. The entire mortar is stained dark-brown and encircled by a series of light-brown bands and decorative carvings. The rim is rounded, thin, and light in color. Light vertical lines descend from the rim into the dark background in a repeating pattern. Each grouping contains seven carved lines. They begin and end with a shorter line with graduating longer lines between them; creating a series of carved scallops symmetrically spaced around the rim.
The next two light-colored bands are spaced slightly apart. There are vertical lines resembling thorns descending from the top, and identical carved lines rising from the bottom. Both meet half-way creating the image of a cell or pod. A horizontal oval resembling a seed is carved inside each pod. This pattern continues between these two bands around the circumference of the mortar.
Underneath the above design, there are two thin light-colored bands. Then two wider light-colored bands. These wider bands are spaced slightly apart with clusters of seeds carved between them. Each cluster contains five seeds, the arrangement of the five seeds within each cluster varies.
Next, the mortar is stained dark brown from the bottom of the last band to the top of the pedestal. There are clusters of three light-colored seeds spaced widely around this part of the mortar.
The pedestal of this mortar has a series of three light-colored bands. The widest is at the top. The “waist” or narrowest part of the pedestal is dark brown, followed by the next two lighter bands. The inside of the mortar shows wear where the color is rubbed away in several places. The pestle that goes with this mortar is not stained.
This item was previously owned by William Spartin. Based on the worn condition of both pieces there is a fair chance that they were used.
The Greek name for mortar and pestle is "goudi and goudoberi." These utensils are a staple of Greek cooking and can be found in virtually any kitchen.
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Mortar, National Hellenic Museum, https://collections.nationalhellenicmuseum.org/Detail/objects/7863. Accessed 02/28/24.