Cutlery is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when considering cannibalism, however, a set of seven 19th century ceremonial forks that previously belonged to a tribe of Fijian cannibals sold for £29,440 ($47,353) in the UK on January 10 - complicating the way in which we understand and envisage the gory tradition.
Bringing a 1,740% increase on their £1,600 ($2,572) estimate, the cannibal forks were treated as sacred objects by the tribespeople who created them, and would have been wielded by attendants whose role was to feed the more senior members of the community slices of meat and, on occasion, human flesh.
James Bridges, director of the auction house presiding over the sale, commented: "The forks came in from a local collector who collects tribal art and medieval weapons.
"They were used in the 19th century and you can see that they have significant age from the patina and colour where they have been handled and used.
"Part of the tradition was that when they had fights or wars with rival tribes the resulting people who were killed would have been brought back and they would have been eaten."
Bridges also observed that he thought the forks "would have represented the power of the tribal chief."
Although some believe that the "civilising" influence of Christianity quashed Fijian cannibalistic rites and ceremonies, many historians argue the reverse - that cannibalistic practices as part of complex tribal politics in fact represent a resistance against the spread of Christianity.
Whether or not this is true, the sale price represents an extremely impressive increase, testament to an upsurge of interest in unique and macabre collectibles.
Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles we also have several unique items in stock that are sure to provoke great interest and discussion, including a museum-grade collection of Albert Pierrepoint's personal effects, complete with casts of his face and hands, memorialising the hangman's every pore and wrinkle.
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