Covered Box, silver nielloware container for betel chewingArtist(s)ThaiObject Creation Date19th century - early 20th centuryMedium & Supportsilver niello with gold, enamel, and glass inlayDimensions
3 3/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. ( 8.5 cm x 6.1 cm x 6.1 cm )Credit LineGift of Doris Duke's Southeast Asian Art CollectionLabel copy
March 28, 2009
Nielloware has been a popular art form in Thailand since the fifteenth century and flourished particularly in the Bangkok period. Made of silver or gold, it has a deeply engraved design filled with black enamel that adheres through heating. Once the enamel fills the crevices created by engraving, it is smoothed and the overall surface polished. One common use of nielloware was as paraphernalia for betel chewing, which is how these small containers with gold-gilt wood fittings on top were used. They would have held areca nut and other ingredients, such as clove and cardamom.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)Subject matter
These small containers with elaborate details were used to hold areca nut and other ingredients, such as clove, cardamom, and nicotine for betel chewing, an important social custom in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
Both silver and gold niellowares were widely produced in Bangkok and Nakhon Si Thammarat between 18th century through 20th century. They have deeply engraved design filled with black enamel that adheres through heating. Once the enamel fills the crevices created by the engraving, it is smoothed, and the overall surface polished. In some instances, gold takes the place of enamel on silver utensils, forming a contrasting silver and gold surface.Physical Description
The small container with lid has a deeply engraved design filled with black enamel. The body has tight, compact, overall decoration of floral motif, with the stupa-shaped gold fitting on the top. Colored glass pieces were inlayed in the fitting.Primary Object Classification Decorative Arts Primary Object TypenielloAdditional Object Classification(s)MetalworkRights
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