Sirih Box, Dutch East Indies
- Tortoiseshell with gold & silver
23 x 17 x 7 cms
This important Sirih or Paan box was presumably made for a high official in the Government of the Dutch East Indies. The sophistication & skill required to mould the tortoiseshell in the manner of waves is incredible. The fittings of silver gilt & gold are extremely refined & the box is a tour de force of design
Sirih boxes are small boxes about 20 cms made of amboynas burr or of tortoiseshell & the vast majority have silver mounts. But, there must have been more valuable boxes, because by decree of the governor-general Jacob Mossel in 1754, only the wives & windows of a governor-general, director-general, raad van India or president of the Justice Council, were allowed to use golden or gold & silver sirih boxes.
These Tortoise shell boxes also had gold or silver mounts. Betel leaf or
Sirih is commonly known as paan leaf. Some of these boxes were without any
internal compartmentalization, perhaps they were used to store ready-made
sirih quids (paan) which comprised a folded sirih (betel) leaf spread with
lime, shavings of areca nut and a piece of gambi.
The Sirih box was especially intended for the conveyance of the ingredients for a paan while travelling.