Silver Betelnut Lime Box & Spatula (Killotaya)
diameter: 5.2cm; length including chain & spatula: 21.3cm, weight: 62g
This silver box of round, flattened form with an attached chain and flattened spatula was used to hold and carry lime (chunam) for mixing with sliced areca nut for betel chewing. It still contains lime residue. The box flips open to reveal the contents; it has hinges on one side. The form is reminiscent of a European gentleman’s pocket watch case which perhaps was the inspiration.
A silver lime box with chain and spatula of similar dimensions and form is in the Clive Collection at Powis Castle, Wales. Importantly for dating purposes, the Powis box is documented in the collection of Robert Clive, Baron Clive of Plassey (‘Clive of India’) in 1775.
Treasures from India: The Clive Collection at Powis Castle, The National Trust, 1987; and Brownrigg, H., Betel Cutters from the Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1992.
Inventory no.: 900