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A Burmese hintha betel container


19th century



The betel container is in the shape of a hintha or sacred goose with prominent wings and a tail. In Burma as in India, the sacred goose was associated with royalty or longevity.

The body of the hintha separates into two halves revealing a shallow cavity, where small quantities of betel were stored.

The offering of betel--a mildly narcotic chewing quid--was an essential element of traditional Burmese society. Every household, including the royal family's, had a set of utensils for its preparation. Betel leaves, used to wrap the blend of areca-nut shavings, lime and spices, were stored in the container.

The hintha is standing upright with tail erect, a ball issuing from its beak, engraved with feathers to the body and scales to the head.

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