Silver & Brass-Inlaid Betel Cutter
early 20th century
length: 14 cm
This cutter is inlaid with both silver and brass wire, on both sides of the body and the top of the upper handle. According to Fraser-Lu (1994), this cutter (kun-hnyat) is from Min-dan village in Yamethin district, Burma. Such cutters were exported to India via Madras and were often erroneously thought in India to have originated in Madras and became known as Madras cutters.
The cutter has Burmese script in inlaid in silver and brass on the upper handle. It translates as ‘Mayor of Dagon’. Dagon is the old Burmese name for Rangoon (Yangon). This mark probably does not mean that the cutter was made for or owned by the mayor; nor is it a brandname. It is more a name added to enhance the prestige of the cutter.
Min-dan cutters are described in Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 148.
Inventory no.: 281