In Southeast Asia the mildly narcotic betel nut is traditionally offered to honoured guests in palaces and village ceremonies. The implements for presenting and preparing the nuts, pods, leaves and lime for betel consumption became important indicators of status and prestige. The spittoon was an essential part of a formal court betel-nut set as the chewing of betel stimulates the saliva glands. In keeping with other aspects of Malay court life, the presentation of containers and betel were subject to strict protocols.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label