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Betel Nut Box - #4736
Betel Nut Box - #4736
This is a betel nut container (circa 1900), of the Maranao people, from the Mindanao region in the southern Philippines. Betel nut boxes can still be found in the Philippines, but early examples like the one featured above have become increasingly scarce and hard to come by. The box is made of heavily cast bronze with pure silver inlay in the traditional Muslim "okir" scroll pattern, a very distinct motif often found on Maranao woodcarvings.

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. The white residue on edge is slaked lime (Calcium Hydroxide) which releases the alkaloid in the Betel Nut.

This is a fine old box made in the early 20th century. Both the Fowler Museum at UCLA (catalog item number X79-15a,b) and the Smithsonian Institute (museum catalog number 383314) have very similar examples of this same type of betel box in their collection.

Dimensions are 6.25 inches x 3 inches x 3 inches.

Condition: excellent with only minor silver loss.