Unknown Artist

Betel nut box

Not on display
Further information

This betel nut container is a beautiful example of local material culture influenced by Islamic design. Chewing areca nut, more commonly known as betel nut, was a widespread pastime in Southeast Asia, where there developed a ceremonial mode of consumption with its own set of accessories. This container was produced by the Maranao Muslim community that has strong ancestral links with early seafaring Sultanates that resisted Spanish imperialism. The Maranao share cultural and religious practices with neighbours in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and are renowned for their architectural woodcarvings. In fact, the curvilinear designs on this box are similar to those found in Maranao woodcarvings and the beaded strap used to carry this box appears to be a langkit band usually used to join a malong (traditional skirt or sarong).

Place of origin
Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines
Cultural origin
late 19th century
early 20th century
Mixed media
silver inlay with beaded handle
8.0 x 17.0 x 8.0 cm
Gift of John Yu 2020
Accession number