Asian Antiques by Silk Road

Silver Hinged Half Circle Betel Box, Laos

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Pre 1800: Item # 162142

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Unusual because of its shape and hinged lid, this 18th century silver container from Laos was used to carry an ingredient--probably a spice--for assembling a quid of betel. The utensils used in betel chewing are among the finest works of art from the southeast Asian countries where betelnut was an important part of the culture. Betel containers demonstrate interesting differences in aesthetic preferences among countries and groups within countries. Silver betel utensils were favored in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam but the silver content, methods of working the silver, shapes of the boxes and ornamentation differed markedly from one country to the next. Boxes from Laos generally had a higher silver content than the Cambodian boxes, which often were made in animal shapes. Vietnamese ornamentation had a more Chinese look, with dragon and phoenix motifs. High, rounded relief designs in geometric and foliage forms such as seen on this one were used on Lao boxes. This box has good silver content and ornamentation on all sides except the bottom. It is in excellent condition. Dimensions: height 1-3/4" (5 cm), width along hinged edge 3-3/4" (9.5 cm), depth 1-3/4" (5 cm). SEE MORE ITEMS IN OUR COLLECTION AT WWW.SILKROAD1.COM