- Museum number
Container for lime to be used in betel-chewing. The container has two parts, a footed bottom and a top with a round tapering form and a lotus bud finial. Made of cast brass.
- Production date
- 17thC (?)
Height: 14.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Betel-chewing is a leisure pastime practiced since ancient times in many parts of south and southeast Asia. It involves wrapping areca nut, slaked lime and other ingredients in a betel leaf to make a quid or small package which is chewed to create a mild stimulant effect. Betel-chewing was common in Thailand through the early 20th century but is now a disappearing tradition.
The ingredients for the betel quid were kept in sets of containers of various materials and forms. During the 19th century and earlier, sets were markers of rank and status. The wealthiest had sets of silver or gold crafted with elaborate designs to delight the eye; bronze was more commonly owned. Lacquer-ware containers for betel were also made in northern Thailand and neighboring Burma.
This container was used to hold slaked lime. The lime is made from seashells or quarried limestone and mixed with water to make a paste, which is dabbed into the betel quid. The container is in two parts, a bottom and a top which slides over it, both pieces fitting tightly together so that the lime paste inside would not dry out. This container contains a bit of lime, now dried out in the form of a white powder with a pinkish tone. The shape of the container resembles forms in Buddhist architecture, with the top ending in a tapering form like a Buddhist stupa or monument. Though unadorned, the smoothly curving form of this container has a clear elegance.
See P. A. Reichert and H. P. Philipsen, Betel and Miang: Vanishing Thai Habits (Bangkok and Cheney: White Lotus, 1996).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number