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Lime & Tobacco Containers

The practice of betel nut chewing was widespread throughout Southeast Asia until very recently and is still common in rural areas.  How and when betel is offered and/or consumed conforms to strict rules of etiquette.  There are both formal and informal variations of the ritual.

The Highland Atoni people of South Central Timor are enthusiastic practitioners of both formal and informal betel nut chewing.  Traditional dress is still common for everyday wear in rural areas.  Articles such as this "tempat kapur” are still being made and used on a daily basis.  In this simple everyday handicraft item we see Timorese design in its purest form, completely unaffected by outside influences.

The white powder on the inside of the container is lime from specially prepared coral.  The lime activates the narcotic in the betel nut imparting a feeling of well being, numbing the gums,  "Making the teeth strong" and turning the mouth a bright orange color.

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