AUD $78.00

Timorese, Bamboo Tobacco Box

 This old tubular two piece carved bamboo box was made to carry tobacco, tucked into a Timorese man's woven waist sash. They may also have been carried in the small flat weave shoulder bags of which we have two examples.

This broader or more squat design is for tobacco, as proven by it's contents, thinner more elongated ones are for storing powdered lime for use in "betel" (areca nut and betel leaf) preparation.

The skill and refinement used to produce such a light, well fitting storage unit, locked until the two ends are twisted apart, must represent a specialized craftsman's work. So tight they often squeak as the two surfaces rub in opening.

I was actually surprised to find a bundle of dark, dry tobacco in it, as I usually handle "lime pots" which have a residue of fine white powdered lime. (We may also still have some bamboo and beaded Timorese Lime Pots available, which like the Turkoman Tobacco Snuff Bottles offer a great field for collectors.)

A totemic or talismanic design has beeen finely engraved into the surface but is almost lost in the richly stained patina of the bamboo.

The parallels and meanings found in these engravings and their textile traditions offer a whole field of study. At the time I collected these pieces I was wearing an embroidered Turkoman shoulder bag. The Timorese traders all responded to the Turkoman "rams horn" designs and yes, they showed me, there they were in the engraved Timorese bamboos and Borneo beadworks.


Age: Early/Mid 20th Century.

Size: H 113 mm x D 44 mm.

Weight: 60 grams