This superb box of rectangular form with rounded, scalloped ends was used to hold the components of the betel quid, betel being a mild social narcotic. It is of solid chased and engraved silver. The lid is inset with a large solid gold plaque which is itself engraved.
The sides of the box are decorated with repeated mihrab-like cartouches with arched tops and infilled with floral decoration. The lid is hinged and fits tightly. It is of domed form. The sides are engraved with scrolling floral and vine motifs and include the Malay-type stylised clove head motif that is often seen on Bugis silverwork.
The base has several areas of old soldering to repair damage to the silver, but this is restricted to the base only and is not visible when the box is sitting n the correct manner. Otherwise, the box is in a fine condition.
The box is the product of the Bugis people, an Islamic, trading, seafaring people of south Sulawesi in the Indonesian archipelago. The Bugis also settled in West Sumatra, Riau and the Malay Peninsula.
Rooney, D., Betel Chewing Traditions in South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1993. :private collection