Inventory no.: 1203

Sumatran Betel/Tobacco Boxes


Two Engraved Brass Betel or Tobacco Boxes

North Sumatra (Probably Aceh), indonesia

18th-19th century

each box:

length: 12.3cm, height: 4cm, width: 5.6cm, 235g

These two brass boxes with tightly fitting hinged lids were made to hold tobacco or betel nut. Both are engraved with typically Islamic, Malay-inspired designs – rococo-like flourishes, stylised orchid blooms, scrolling foliage and the like. The designs are on all sides and the covers. The interiors have heavy encrustation from use.

Such boxes appear to be modelled after Dutch tobacco boxes and are a legacy of the contact that Dutch colonialists and traders had with Indonesia.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 1203


Dried betel kernels that have been cracked open.

Each is about 1.5 cm across.

An areca palm from which betel nuts are sourced.