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Cambodian Khmer Bronze Elephant Betel Nut Box

Cambodian Khmer Bronze Elephant Betel Nut Box

Regular price $106.00
Regular price Sale price $106.00
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Mid. to late 19th Century, Cambodia, Southeast Asia

Fascinating Cambodian Khmer bronze betel box in zoomorphic form of an elephant with its trunk upwards (always upwards for good luck). A two-part, small-sized box is covered with detailed hand-forged repoussé design. The box was used to hold the leaves and other ingredients necessary to provide a mixture of betel, a mild stimulant used for centuries throughout Southeast Asia. Chewing betel nut can have many cultural meanings, and it was once central to ceremonial occasions and social interactions. Reflecting its importance, ornate metal boxes like this one were made to hold the ingredients. They were often times a symbol of wealth, status, and social standing. They were often put out to welcome guests or even carried by the owners on straps when they went out.

Good condition. Age-related heavy wear. Corrosion, dirt and soil. Encrusted green and dark brown patina cover the surface. Size approx. 7,8cm x 6,6cm x 4,0cm.

Provenance: Swedish private collection

References and further reading:

Betel Chewing Traditions in South-East Asia, Dawn F. Rooney, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1993. (

The Lerche Collection: Chewing Betel Through the Ages, Beowulf K. Klebert, Arts of Asia, January-February 1983, pp. 107.13.

From Betel-Chewing to Tobacco-Smoking in Indonesia, Anthony Reid, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. XLIV, No. 3, May 1985, pp. 529-47.

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