AUD $130.00
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Timorese Beaded Lime Pot

This old beaded tubular beaded bamboo box was made by the Atoni in Western Timor, to carry powdered lime for use in "betel" (areca nut and betel leaf) preparation, and wornin the small flat weave shoulder bags of which we may still have two examples, see also

Plainer incised bamboo lime pots were less fragile and more easily worn tucked into a Timorese man's woven waist sash. 

The bamboo tube is covered in a fine net threaded with a diagonal diamond pattern of tiny old opaque and translucent glass Trade Beads. Which could have either European or Chinese origins, but I think are European, possibly having also been recycled from older pieces of beadwork as they were greatly prized and valued.

I admire the skill and refinement used to produce such a light, well fitting storage unit, locked with a carved wooden plug reinforced as it is with an old Dutch "Nederlandische Indes 5 Ct"  coin, still attached with a cotton thread. (It's more than likely this lid has been reattached so the coin may not be original, but then again?)

This thinner more elongated tube is for storing powdered lime for use in "betel" (areca nut and betel leaf) preparation, whilst the broader or more squat designs are for tobacco. I was actually surprised to find a bundle of dark, dry tobacco in one, as I usually handle "lime pots" which often have a residue of fine white powdered lime. (We may also still have some incised bamboo and beaded Timorese Lime  and Tobacco Pots available, which like the Turkoman Tobacco Snuff Bottles offer a great field for collectors.)

The parallels and meanings found in these beadworks, engravings and their textile traditions offer a whole field of study. At the time I collected these pieces I was carrying 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 20th Century.

Size: H 114 mm x D 30 mm.

Weight: 45 grams