Betel chewing paraphernalia; Southeast Asia

Betel chewing is a practice found from South Asia to the western Pacific. It is an ancient practice as demonstrated by evidence on the teeth recovered from prehistoric burials, and it continues in many areas today. The elements of the chewed “quid” vary in their particulars from region to region, but typically include betel leaf, areca palm nut, and powdered lime. There are significant cultural aspects to the practice with the materials used medicinally, included in ritual offerings, and playing a role in social and political ceremonies. The paraphernalia associated with betel chewing reflect the strong cultural identity of the makers and in most cultures are closely associated with hospitality. As guests in Japan would always be offered tea on arrival, guests in southeast Asia on entering another’s house would be offered the ingredients and paraphernalia to prepare a quid for betel chewing.
1. Lime container: fiber-wrapped gourd with carved wood stopper, purchased used 1987, Java, Indonesia. 2. Lime container: traditionally cast brass/bronze, purchased new 1989 (nearly identical to one from the same bronze-working village which had been owned and used by an elderly woman for the previous 50 years), northeastern Thailand. 3. Lime container: carved antler stopper on incised bamboo container; purchased used 1998, Sarawak, Malaysia. 4. Nut and/or tobacco container: repoussé silver/copper alloy (?), purchased used 1998, Sarawak, Malaysia. 5. Nut cutter: recycled automobile leaf-spring blade with wood handle, purchased new 2010, Luang Prabang, Laos. 6. Nut cutter: hand-forged metal, purchased new 2013, Inle Lake, Myanmar. 7. Nut/quid crusher (used by those with weak or missing teeth): carved wood handle and metal pestle with hollow bone mortar, purchased used 1987, Kalimantan, Indonesia. 8. Lime container: incised bamboo with beads, purchased used 2006, northern Luzon, Philippines.

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