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X95.38.75 Areca nut cutter, pair of lovers

 

Object Name: Areca nut cutter, pair of lovers
Place of Origin: Tamil Nadu, India
Materials Used: Brass
Date: 16th-17th century
Dimensions: L: 16.0 cm, W: 10.5 cm, H: 4.0 cm (L: 6.2 in, W: 4.1 in, H: 1.5 in)
Credit Line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Samuel Eilenberg. X95.38.75

A slice of areca nut and a dab of slaked lime, rolled inside a betel leaf—these are the basic ingredients of the betel quid chewed by millions of people in Asia and the Pacific. Betel is a mild stimulant, activated by chewing these ingredients together. Its social meanings are myriad. It may be prepared by a lover, exchanged with in-laws to propose a marriage, extended in welcome to friends or enemies, or accepted as a sign of deference to authority. The care and the precious materials invested in making the beautiful implements used to prepare betel—including areca nut cutters, mortars, and lime spatulas—are testimony to the importance of all things sealed with a quid.

Gallery Text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006

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