Markham Valley, Huon Peninsula, New Guinea. About 4 ½” straight measure. About 120 years old, made from a coconut with carved hand grips and fashioned entirely with stone and shell tools. From one of the most interesting cultures in the modern era, the cargo cult made famous by the 1962 movie Mondo Cane. In the 1930s, Markham Valley natives saw occasional airplanes and heard of coastal contact with whites and their wondrous things, like metal axes and knives.
They concluded that the whites were ancestors returning to help them. After performing the proper rituals, they were ready to receive the gifts due to them. When none came, they concluded that the whites were keeping it for themselves and the thing to do was lure an airplane in. They built airplanes, radio shacks with log antennas and airfields out of straw, coconuts, and other jungle materials. They hacked runways out of the jungle and paved them with palm leaves. Then they waited. You can imagine the rest. If not, see the movie. Cannibalism was integral to their culture and it has always been a point of conjecture whether these serving spoons were for human consumption.
Markam Valley cannibal serving spoon from the Gunter Hintz collection. C.1900. Circular bowl with tapered crenulated edge handle with pierced banded terminal. Fine glossy patina with genuine wear from use.