Lime pot with a handle in the shape of areca fruit

Accession Number

Lime pot with a handle in the shape of areca fruit

Annam; Kiln Unknown, Vietnam

Object Creation Date
16th century

Medium & Support
stoneware with green and crackled white glaze

4 1/8 in. x 3 1/4 in. x 3 1/4 in. ( 10.4 cm x 8.3 cm x 8.3 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Helmut Stern

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This curiously shaped ceramic pot was used for betel chewing, a custom common in Vietnam, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries. A pot, filled with powdered lime, was passed around to guests, who each inserted a moistened finger in the hole to extract the amount of lime required. This was then smeared on a betel leaf, together with slices of areca nut and often extra flavorings such as clove and cardamom, folded into a wad, and chewed. The pot is modeled in the shape of an areca nut, the seed of the areca palm tree that grows in most tropical countries. Some white powdered lime still remains inside this pot.
(Label for UMMA South and Southest Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
A small pot for holding powdered lime (calcium oxide), an ingredient mixed with betel nuts and spices to make a popular stimulant used extensively in Vietnam and other parts of South and Southeast Asia.

Physical Description
A small container made by inverting a wheel-thrown jar with a rounded bottom, cutting out a circle in the new 'shoulder' of the jar, and attaching a flat bottom. The handle, which is simply attached at both ends, takes the form of an areca fruit. The vessel as a whole has a pale straw-colored glaze, with a rich green iron glaze dripped over the handle and the upper part of the pot.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

lime (fruit)
plant-derived motifs
pots (containers)
stoneware (pottery)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted