This large hilt, carved from a single piece of solid horn (probably buffalo), is in the shape of a parrot. It would have been used either as handle for a betel crusher, or as a hilt for a kris. It has a worn, brass collar around the base.
The hilt is large and hefty and feels satisfying in the hand.
Betel is a mild, social narcotic that was chewed widely across Southeast Asia. Usually, slithers of areca nut were wrapped in betel leaf along with powdered lime (usually sourced from seashells or coral) and chewed. However, elderly users who had lost all or most of their teeth were unable to chew the slithers so easily and so the nut was pounded to a pulp. This hilt might have been used on such a pounder.
The styling suggests that the hilt comes from Lombok, an island east of Bali, in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago.
It is in fine condition with no significant losses and no repairs. It is accompanied by a quality, custom-made metal stand.
Brownrigg, H., Betel Cutters from the Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1992.
Ghiringhelli, V., Kris Hilts: Masterpieces of South-East Asian Art, 5 Continents, 2011.