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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world


Kava bowl early twentieth century

RCIN 69583

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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Kava is a sedative drink made from crushed and powdered roots mixed with water. In Samoa, bowls of this kind are used at special kava ('ava) ceremonies. The discolouration in the basin may be traces of kava, which suggests that this bowl was used before being presented. It is carved from a single piece of wood of the intsia bijuga tree. As well as 24 round legs, it has two protruding sections at the side for hanging when not in use.

Kava plays a central role in communal rituals such as welcome ceremonies. As a result, bowls of this type have become an important symbol of Samoan hospitality. This example was a Silver Jubilee gift to King George V in 1935.