Betel nut bag (kalimbut hada)

DATE:
late 19th–early 20th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Plant fiber and beads
CLASSIFICATION:
Textiles
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 21 3/4 x 14 1/4 in. (55.245 x 36.19 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, the Steven G. Alpert Collection of Indonesian Textiles, gift of The Eugene McDermott Foundation
OBJECT NUMBER:
1983.99

General Description

A favorite motif for Sumbanese textiles and beadwork is the frontal male figure shown with upraised arms and very large feet. Often described as an ancestor figure, he usually dominates the scene, as the figure does on this rare, royal bag, which contained a raja’s betel nut and the paraphernalia needed for chewing it. Generic birds, grazing deer, geometric elements, and orange, omega-shaped mamuli__ (gold ornaments like the one on display in this gallery) fill the surrounding space. Royal beaded bags could be made only by women of noble lineage using beads that were believed to be sacred and valuable gifts of the ancestors.

The ancient practice of chewing betel nut is firmly embedded in the social and religious fabric of Indonesia. It is offered as a sign of hospitality in the home and to the spirits during rituals and ceremonies. Betel nut is a mild stimulant, similar to a cup of coffee.

Excerpt from

Roslyn Adele Walker, Label text, 2013.