Mortar and Pestle

Type of object
Mortar and pestle
Technique and material

wood, silver

1900 ?
Pestle: 57 x 6 cm / Mortar: 25 x 19 cm

Whether made of wood, metal, ceramic or stone, the mortar and pestle are among the world’s most common and ancient kitchen utensils. What gesture is more basic for the cook or chemist than that used to pulverise food?

The material and size of the mortar and pestle depend on their usage: for moist foods, wood should be avoided, and the mortar must be tall if it is for pounding hard grains. This explains the size of African mortars for millet, as well as the wooden mortar from the Alimentarium shown here, which is for grinding wheat grain and roasted coffee beans.
This mortar and pestle is about 100 years old and was obtained in 1983 from Bedouins in Israel. It is decorated with geometric designs and hammered silver along the rim. The special care given to the aesthetic quality of this object is not surprising: in Bedouin culture, both craftsmanship and the preparation of coffee are essential to daily life.

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