An Unusually Massive Batak Brass Lime Box

Sumatra, Indonesia, late 19th century

diameter: 9.5 cm

This unusually large spherical brass box, cast in two halves, was used to carry lime, an essential part of the betel quid, and originates from the Batak people of the Lake Toba region of North Sumatra. This box is elaborately cast all over with floral motifs and is perhaps one of the finest examples known. It is a

tour de force

in Sumatran brass casting work.


A smaller, less elaborate example is in the collection of the National Museum of Singapore (inventory no.B0100) and illustrated in Singh, B.,

Malay Brassware

, National Museum of Singapore, 1985, p. 18. Another, also small,is illustrated in Sibeth, A.,

The Batak: Peoples of the Island of Sumatra

, Thames & Hudson, 1991, p. 171.

Inventory no.: 311