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Thai Pierced Round Betel Box & Cover

19th century-early 20th century

diameter: 16.4cm, height: 7cm, weight: 507g



private collection, UK; acquired by the previous owner at Christie's London.

This round, pierced box in silver is from Thailand, most probably Bangkok, and was made by local Sino-Thai silversmiths. The box would have held the elements of the betel quid (betel being a mild social narcotic).

The sides and cover are pierced and decorated with bamboo canes and leaves interspersed with an eclectic range of creatures including monkeys, a phoenix, tree shrews, a dragon, deer, frogs, shrimp, a snake, fish, crabs, clam shells, humming birds and even a horse!

The cover is slightly domed.

The base is of sheet silver, and this is stamped in Chinese characters with the shop mark ‘Xiang Zhen’, a maker or retailer listed in Bromberg (2018, p. 207) but about which little is known.

A related box is illustrated in Bromberg (2018, p. 32).

The box here is in fine condition and is free of dents, splits or repairs. The lid fits tightly.


Bromberg, P., Thai Silver and Nielloware, River Books, 2019.

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