Gretel is a gorgeous little turlte betel nut box with intricate, etched floral detail on her shell and sides. She is in excellent vintage condition and measures approximately 6.5" long x 5" wide x 5" tall.
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Betel chewing permeated every layer of Cambodian society from the Court downwards. It was enjoyed by men and women alike and proffered in hospitality. The chewing of betel required elaborate preparation with many ingredients and specialised equipment; areca nuts, betel leaves, lime paste, tobacco, additional spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, camphor and cutters, spittoons and mortars. The different ingredients and associated objects were all kept in separate boxes and these containers would be stored together inside a much larger container. Containers could be made from wood, clay, brass, copper and precious metals and were often made to resemble a natural form; vegetables, birds, fruits and animals were all popular. Gold containers were for the exclusive use of the royal family and their courtiers and, below them, only the very rich were able to afford a full set of silver boxes.
Betel chewing was a key part of many social engagements and ceremonies, particularly betrothal and marriage, with the exchange of betel taking place when a contract or agreement had been reached. Consequently, betel containers were a highly prized possession and a key signifier of a family’s social standing.