This is a carving identified as a “love spoon” which I obtained in Wales. I begin with it because it represents a historic tradition associated with sailors who symbolized a longing for home by carving a spoon representing home and married life. The chain and caged balls add to its specialness and orally conveyed belief that I heard construed the number of balls in the cage as a sign of the number of children the sailor has or wants. On a personal note, this particular item holds memories for me because I acquired it before conducting fieldwork with woodcarvers in southern Indiana. I wonder sometimes whether the object was a sign of bigger things to come back home.
Photo by Simon J. Bronner, Ph.D.