Tridigital Mystery

I went to the Thrift Shop last week.

An object on a shelf caught my eye.

What the heck?

I’ve never seen anything like THAT before.

Sticker price: Three dollars.

Price with sales tax: Three dollars and nineteen cents.


I brought it home. Right now it’s on the fireplace mantel. I have no idea what I’ll eventually do with it.

What this attracted me to this was its utter weirdness, the amount of work that obviously went into it, and the fact that it has never been used as an ashtray. It is an interesting tropical wood, very dense and hard, which I can’t identify I don’t know where it came from, but suspect Africa or Southeast Asia.

I’ve spent some time trying to figure this thing out.

It turns out that there are a lot of carved wood foot ash trays in the world. Almost all of them have five toes.

In a half hour of searching, I found only one other three-toed wooden ash tray image.

If you dig around on google or eBay or Etsy, you will find foot ash trays galore. The people selling them seem to know nothing about them. Most do seem to come from SE Asia or Africa. A fairly high proportion of them have raised big toes. If you had a few thousand bucks, you could buy enough foot ash trays to start a foot ash tray museum.

It seems that the raised big toe is an actual medical condition, sometimes called “Hitch-hiker’s Toe” or “Banana Hallux” or “Striated Toe”.From a podiatry site: “Hitchhiker’s toe resembles the thumb of a hitchhiker, due to the hyperextension of the extensor hallucis longus muscle. This involuntary position is also called striated toe.”

So, dear readers…

Are there any among you who can shed light on the tradition of the wooden carved-foot ashtray?

Thank you.


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