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Kun-it (betel) or be-it (cosmetic) box

  • Place of origin:

    Shan (Laikha, made)
    Burma

  • Date:

    ca. late 19th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Of finely plaited bamboo wickerwork, covered with black thitsi gum with a surface coating of scarlet thitsi lacquer which is partly overlaid with tinfoil, the whole being then covered with a transparent gold varnish.

  • Credit Line:

    Curzon Bequest

  • Museum number:

    IM.200-1927

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

The red and gold box is round and cylindrical, the slip-over cover and the plain box being about the same height. The inner tray is flat-bottomed and plain.
The cover has on the top a chu-pan design - a highly conventionalised pattern of leaf-diaper, and on the sides boldly waving bands with rosettes and the same leaf-diaper.

Place of Origin

Shan (Laikha, made)
Burma

Date

ca. late 19th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Of finely plaited bamboo wickerwork, covered with black thitsi gum with a surface coating of scarlet thitsi lacquer which is partly overlaid with tinfoil, the whole being then covered with a transparent gold varnish.

Dimensions

Height: 8.5 cm, Diameter: 23 cm

Descriptive line

Burmese Shan States bamboo and lacquer cylindrical kun-it (betel) or be-it (cosmetic) box with an inner tray in black coated in scarlet, silver and gilt decorated with floral and foliate patterns. ca. late 19th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Sylvia Fraser Lu "Burmese Lacquerware"; Bangkok 1985

Production Note

Attribution note: Conflict of opinion as to what kind of box this was meant to be. There is a paper label stuck to the lid describing in Burmese script this to be a betel box but in 1992 Ralph Isaacs discovered a pencilled label also in Burmese script stating this to be "old style comb box"; ie for cosmetics and toiletries.

Materials

Bamboo; Thitsi lacquer; Clay; Ash; Gold leaf; Pigment

Techniques

Basketry; Lacquering; Colouring; Gilding

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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