Vintage Betel Nut Trays
Bottom Stack: 8" High x 10.75" Square
Middle Stack: 7.25" High x 8.5" Square
Top Stack: 6.25" High x 8.5" Square
Tje art of betel chewing or paan was known in the colonial days as betel-nut chewing. It requires three different plants used in combination: the betel nut which is the seed of the areca palm, the betel leaf which comes from the pan plant, and lime. The leaf is first daubed with lime paste and topped with thin slices of the nut before it is folded or rolled into a bite-size quid. It acts as a mouth freshener, helps digestion and creates a sense of euphoria almost like chocolate does. A betel chewer is recognised by the red staining of the mouth, gum, teeth and lips. Generating a large amount of saliva, the excess juices are spat out. These little morsels are sold on the streets or market. In traditional households, a good host would offer the betel nut tray piled with a pyramid of paan after a sumptuous meal.
The custom of betel chewing is over 2,000 years old, and it is estimated that some 10 percent of the world’s population chew betel nut. There is no equivalent habit in the Western world. From linguistic, archaeological, literary and oral sources, it seems likely that betel chewing was practised in Southeast Asia in prehistoric time.
There is an undated legend of Vietnamese origin which centres around the betel leaf and areca nut. The story is about a pair of twin brothers who both fell in love with the same beautiful woman. The older of the twin brothers, Tan, married the woman as Vietnamese custom called for the elder to marry first. However, one day, the woman mistook the younger twin brother, Lang, as her spouse and showed her affection to him. Having performed an extremely profane act, Lang, filled with remorse, left home and died of grief and was turned into a white limestone rock, symbolising his devotion. Concerned for his missing brother, Tan set off to look for Lang. By a twist of fate, Tan reached the stream where his younger brother laid. Overcome by grief, he died at the same spot where his younger brother laid and was turned into a straight and slender areca palm with fan-shaped leaves and areca nuts.
Finally, the wife set out and found the place where her husband and Lang had died. She, too, collapsed in despair, and became a betel vine that crept and twined round the palm tree.
The story is symbolic of the strong bonds of love and marriage, and explains the use of betel chewing with lime and areca nut to signify love and marriage.
These rustic trays are perfect for office organizers or fruit display or use for serving condiments to your guests.
Handmade in Thailand