Fish-Shaped Betel Nut Box

Indonesian (Indonesian)
20th century
: 3 x 4 x 2 1/2 in. (7.62 x 10.16 x 6.35 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
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Betel nuts are seeds from the areca palm, which grows naturally throughout South and Southeast Asia and the tropical Pacific Islands. They contain a variety of active chemical compounds and are used by many cultures in those regions as a stimulant and appetite suppressant. Betel nuts may be consumed fresh or dried. They are often sliced and wrapped in green betel leaves with a pinch of slaked lime and assorted flavoring spices. The wrapped leaf packets are then placed in the mouth and periodically chewed to release the stimulating chemical compounds. This whimsical silver betel nut box was made in Indonesia, and may have been used by an affluent host in social situations when betel nuts were offered to guests as a form of hospitality.

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