Painted Antique Betel Box from Indonesia

Item BR88             

This Item was Sold on 25 September 2010 for $41

Similar artifacts for sale are often found on the Asian Artifacts web page. 

Historical Pricing information for this item and similar artifacts can be found at: Historical Artifact Prices.

Throughout Asia, it used to be customary for most homes to have special compartmentalized boxes or trays that were used to hold the various materials used to make fresh betel nut quids. A typical box would have separate compartments for sliced betel nuts, fresh betel leaf and various spices such as cardamom, fennel, saffron and lime powder. When guests would visit, they would be presented with a fully stocked box with all the makings of a tasty betel chew. These rustic, antique betel boxes are part of an age-old custom and make for a great conversation piece.

Betel nut, for those unfamiliar, is a mild stimulant that is chewed throughout the Asian continent. The almost ceremonial and habitual chewing of the betel nut usually involves four ingredients: areca nut (bunga), fresh pepper leaves (buyo), powder lime (apug), and damp tobacco leaves. Slaked lime (Calcium Hydroxide) is used to release the alkaloid in the Betel Nut.

This old Betel Nut box or serving container was purchased in Indonesia more than 30 years ago by a friend who travelled extensively throughout that region and had a fine eye for antiquities. This Betel Box is very old and is ornately decorated around the perimeter with wood carvings. It is painted yellow and red on the sides. The pieces of wood are held together by very thin nails. There is a vendor tag on the underside that says "Excellent Old Betel Box Painted Wood. Lombok Is. Indonesia c1800 $120". Betel nut boxes can still be found in Indonesia, but early 19th century examples like this one have become increasingly scarce and hard to come by.

The width is 25 cm. The depth is 16 cm. The height is 15 cm. The depth of the tray compartments is 6 cm. The box weighs 718 grams. This box is in very good condition, but there are a few small chips, faded paint, etc. as expected for such an old artifact.

How to Order | Back to: Asian Artifacts | Collectable Artifacts | Historical Artifact Prices | contact: Ted Bailey