Throw me a bone here
February 21, 2012 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify this possibly antique carved bone object I just bought.

So one of my hobbies is buying and very occasionally selling weird things I come across in my travels. I am interested in folk art/handmade stuff and I just found this thing and have no idea what it is but it was cheap so I bought it. First view

Second View

Bottom View

Inside view

What I can tell you about it. I bought it from a store in Montana, they know nothing of where it came from. It is small, maybe 4 inches tall. Wood base with two pegs that hold the top to the wood, one peg is missing. I believe the white part is bone, I tested it with a red hot heated nail and was greeted by an acrid smell (think dental drill - not burning plastic) the nail did not even make a dent.

One of the carved figures on one side has a hole in the crotch all the way through the bone. That makes me wonder if it was hand carved or not. Because it is a pretty fine hole not sure if that can be done without an electric drill. The figures look vaguely familiar to me but I can't place them. No idea on the age. It looks old but I know that can be faked. Only thing that makes me think it is actually old is the condition of the wood where the peg meets the bone.

It looks like a candle holder, I can't really think of any other uses but I've been wrong before.

So any thoughts? Is it a tourist trinket? Weird voodoo folk art thing? Happy to hear any guesses educated or otherwise as my google searching has proved fruitless.
posted by WickedPissah to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
My first thought was a candlestick tourist trinket.
posted by Windigo at 10:22 AM on February 21, 2012

It looks like something you might put matches in (the long ones used for fireplace lighting).
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:26 AM on February 21, 2012

Incense holder?
posted by MangyCarface at 10:52 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, this may sound weird, but hear me out: That guy in the carving? Imagine he had a huge penis.

No, seriously! He reminds me, pose and all, of the Cerne Abbas Giant, or Rude Man.

So I'm wondering if that crotch hole that goes through is to add some sort of comical phallic appendage. I agree it is most likely a tourist souvenir.
posted by misha at 11:01 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Still searching but thanks all for the help. Closest thing I found was from Africa and was much newer and made differently. But it's a start.
posted by WickedPissah at 6:13 AM on February 26, 2012

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