Repoussed Silver Ceremonial Betel Box
late 19th century
height: 32cm; diameter of base at widest point: 23cm
weight: 1,245 grams (2 pounds & 12 ounces)
This spectacular Burmese silver betel box and stand is made from finely repoussed silver – various courtly scenes show a king, retainers and cabinet ministers in their tall, rounded hats. The open work pedestal stand is particularly fine. Each of the six zoomorphic feet sprouts from a cartouche also repoussed with a courtly scene. The tightly fitting lid – also finely repoussed is surmounted by a silver cast mythical man-bird kinnara figure. The box retains its internal tray, made from hammered silver.
Extravagant sets such as this were reserved for the wealthy and the aristocratic. They were used to display wealth in the family home and also to adorn the wedding dais.
A lesser example is illustrated in Rooney, D., Betel Chewing Traditions in South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1993, illustration 22.
Inventory no.: 603