In Tunisia, North Africa, bowls are 100% hand carved of natural olive wood, therefore each bowl is unique in shape and wood grains. Again, olive wood as a raw material for food utensils is definitely healthy and biological.Olive wood utensils are very present in Tunisian culture and families. Bowls are mainly used for salads, sauces, and the like. They are not a dishwasher safe item though. Authentic natural olive wood salad bowls are sold by the diameter. Bowls are carved as you order. Visitors to chose from saucers, personal bowls, medium and large serving bowls.
Bowls play an important role in several other cultures too. Let’s have a look at Tibet for example.
Every family has wooden bowls. There are always two wooden bowls in a common Tibetan family, a big one and a small one, the former for the father and the latter for the mother. Even to this day, the father’s bowl is larger than the mother’s. If a couple happens to visit another family, the latter will be sure to serve the wife tea in a smaller bowl than her husband; otherwise, it would be considered impolite.
When you travel to Tibet, you can see most local Tibetan people, Tibetan pilgrims in particular, carry a wooden bowl if the leave their home. They use the bowl to drink butter tea, eat tsaba or other food and drink. A crack in the wooden bowl is regarded as a sign of ill luck, and the bowl must be replaced.
Now that China bowls have become popular, every family uses them as spares for guests. If the edge of the china bowl is clipped, it is also regarded as ill luck and cannot be used, especially by the guests. They avoid drinking tea from a cracked bowl in the early morning, and if they should do so accidentally, those who believe in this taboo stay at home the whole day just to avoid disaster.
In Tibet too, everyone who leaves home for a trip carries a wooden bowl in this way.The wooden bowls of the balladeers are the largest and “can hold 4.5 kilo of butter tea.” Whenever the balladeers perform in the open at fairs or in marketplaces, they place their wooden bowls at the side, asking for tips. Then, the wooden bowl has an additional use, to hold money or other things.
Tibetan monks also use wooden bowls. People who know the monasteries well can tell which monastery the monk is from based on the shape of the bowl. The iron-club lamas always move the bowl from one hand to the other playfully, which is quite dazzling. In religious meetings, when the iron-club lama keeps order, his wooden bowl is an emblem of authority that is used to knock the head of those who do not observe the order, and they dare not respond.
Clergy and laypeople making obeisance to the Dalai Lama in the morning were usually awarded three bowls of butter tea. While they listened respectfully to the Dalai Lama or the prince regent, they sipped the butter tea from their bowls constantly.
When a person dies, the other family members fill the wooden bowl that he or she used for butter tea and place it before the corpse. On the seventh day after the sky burial, the family as well as relatives and friends follow the priest in charge to the bank of the Lhasa River to hold a ceremony wishing the dead person’s spirit safety and peace.
In the ceremony, they lay the wooden bowl in front of the dead person before them and repeatedly fill it with tea to wish the person a good voyage. Finally, tea is poured out of the wooden bowl, cleaned, and given to the priest. After that, the bowl belongs to the priest. This is a rule in the burial custom: The priest in charge of the celestial burial possesses the bowl every time after the dead body is buried. If the family wants to keep the dead person’s wooden bowl as a memento, they must buy it from the priest.