I’ve had tea and coffee out of dainty porcelain cups, chunky stoneware mugs, paper cups and glasses, kulhads (terracotta cups), steel tumblers… In other words, in just about every other type of material possible. And I suppose, so would you.
And then I came across this coffee set at the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum and realised that I had neither seen anything like this or had coffee/tea out of something like this !
Made of coconut shells in the late 19th or early 20th century, this rather quaint looking coffee set is from Ceylon or modern-day Sri Lanka. This is the only information available on this artifact in the Museum, though there is a small, general write-up on the European fascination for the “exotic” coconut. There is no information on who made this or owned it or how the Museum came to acquire it — through donation or purchase or any other means !
Coconut and the use of every part of the tree is well-known and common in India, and particularly in its southern parts. Coconut-based or products were popular in the European markets in the 19th and 20th centuries and something like this coffee set would have been unusual and exotic.
I can imagine coffee or tea being served in sets like these or being given as gifts or souvenirs of the exotic East ! My imagination also cannot get over the fact that the coffee could very well have been coconut flavoured ! :-P
Have you ever seen anything like this before? Or had anything made from coconut shell?
The Museum Treasure Series is all about artifacts found in museums with an interesting history and story attached to them. You can read more from this series here.