AUD $130.00

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 really tiny old opaque and translucent glass Trade Beads. These tiny beads 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 as heirlooms.

I admire the skill and refinement used to produce such a light, well fitting storage unit, locked with a carved wooden plug.This plug is detached from the tube and has a replacement cotton "grip" whereas it would have been attached, possibly with a beaded thread. 

There is what remains of a faded, braided red and yellow cotton cord "handle" cut in half, which retains a beaded fringe of tiny yellow beads over half its length. Apart from this breakage the rest of the beadwork is in near perfect preservation except one minor split of about 2 cm in the beads at one end and a few mm missing at the other.

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.

(Note, I was told this was Atoni, which is most likely, but I'd asked "Is it Atoni?" And they agreed. I should have been more careful how I asked. However it may also be Dawan as a similar one is described as "Atoni or Dawan" on page 238, Ethnic Jewellery...)


Age: Early 20th Century.

Size: H 92 mm x D 30 mm tube excluding fringe.

Weight: 39 grams