6374

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    Two Early Thai Bronze Betel Cups

    Tenasserim region, Thailand/Burma
    circa 14th-15th century

    height: 9cm and 4.6cm, combined weight: 349g

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    Provenance

    private collection, London. Collected in Burma, in Tenasserim in 1933, by Maurice Collis (1889-1973). Collins entered the Indian Civil Service in 1911 & was posted to Burma in 1912. His postings included Sagaing & Arakan. He served as a district magistrate in Rangoon (1929-1930) and thereafter as Excise Commissioner. He returned to England in 1934 and wrote many books including on Burma.

    These two early bronze betel receptacles – one a footed cup with a domed cover, and the other a pierced, footed cup – date to around the 14th-15 century. The cup with the cover has applied scrolling bronze-work to the lid, and the pierced cup has scrolling foliate openwork – patterns and motifs found on gold receptacles from the same era.

    According to a label dated 1933 attached to another item from the same group, they were found, presumably excavated, in Tenasserim, an area that runs along the southern border between Burma and Thailand. The label states that the pieces are ‘Siamese’ and are from the Ayutthaya ‘dynasty’.

    The chewing of betelnut, a mild social narcotic, has occurred in the region for thousands of years.

    The two have a varying green-grey patina with encrustation and are in very fine condition.

    References

    Somkiart Lopetcharat, Lopburi and Thavaravadi Sculptures in Thailand, Siam International Book Company, 2015.

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