348. An Ifuagao Wood Food Bowl

Ifugao people, Luzon, Philippines,
19th century
Size: 36 cm diameter

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This classic Ifugao artefact, adzed from hardwood, has been described as ‘perhaps the most beautiful and functional food bowl devised by mankind’. The central cavity, curved inwards towards the top, was for rice, and the two shallow cavities for spices, perfectly designed for a couple to share a meal, and adapted for eating with the right hand. The buffalo-horn spoon, from the same area, was for filling the spice-bowls, not for eating. In the early 1900s imported enamel plates brought an end to these beautiful creations.