Yun Lacquer Betel Box

c. 1900
H: 9.5" Dia: 9.0"
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In many southeast Asian cultures, offering guests a betel quid to chew was the fundamental symbol of hospitality. A blend of leaves, nuts, seasonings, and sometimes tobacco, betel was kept in finely worked and highly decorated boxes.

Crafted in the early 20th-century, this round stacking betel box is decorated in a style of Burmese lacquerware known as "yun" ware. Many coats of red-orange cinnabar lacquer were layered over a bamboo base and then carefully etched with intricate patterns and filled with bright pigments. The exterior of this box is patterned with Buddhist practitioners seated in meditation, framed within an exquisite palace or temple setting.

The cylindrical box is fitted with one interior tray, used to separate the betel leaves from the areca nuts and spices used to finish the betel quid. A beautiful display of traditional lacquerware, this box remains vibrant even after a century of use.

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