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Burmese Lacquer Betel Box

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Pre 1920: item # 137195

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Burmese Lacquer Betel Box
Luminous cinnabar-colored lacquer is paired with subtle intricate design on this early 20th century betel box from Burma. Fine black lines incised on the lacquer create a tortoise shell pattern, which is punctuated around the side and top of the deep lid with small astrological figures also drawn in black. The deep hatbox style lid fits snugly over the high-sided container, also covered with the tortoise shell design. Cylindrical boxes such as this, called kun-it, were used to store ingredients needed for betel chewing, a mild stimulant that was thought to freshen breath also. Once a common practice in southeast Asia, betel chewing was central to social interaction as well. In old Burma, the betel box was an important item of hospitality to be offered to guests so they could select their preferred ingredients. This container is fitted with one lacquer tray and is in excellent condition. Dimensions: height 8 1/2" (21 cm), diameter 9 1/4" (24 cm).


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