5041

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Burmese Lacquer Betel Box

Burma
circa late 19th century

diameter: 23.2cm, height: 21.5cm

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Provenance

UK art market

This large, round betel box is decorated with red, green, yellow, orange and black lacquer. It has been made from a woven bamboo substrate that has then be lacquered and incised with decoration.

Such boxes were used to store the leaves, nuts and utensils associated with the preparation and serving of betel, a mild social narcotic traditionally popular in Burma with all levels of society.

It shows various court scenes – a king seated with his ministers and so on.

There are also three fields of finely-rendered Burmese script. Most probably these include the name of the maker and also the place of manufacture, probably Pagan.

The box retains its two internal trays.

The box is in excellent condition for its age. It is large and decorative. All the trays and the cover fit well and tightly with the base.

References

Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Lacquerware, White Orchid Books, 2000.

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