Betel Nut Containers and Accessories

The importance of the Betel Nut ritual in Timorese society

Pua or betel nut still plays an important role in Timorese society. Most men and some women enjoy a chew, some from early morning through to dark. It puts more oxygen into the blood and staves off hunger, allowing the people to work longer and harder in the fields. Alot like the coca leaf for the South American Indians.

Tempat Kapur or Lime containers are still made and used daily by the people of Timor. There is a distinctive style to house the nut, leaf and tobacco and another in which the lime powder resides invariably intricately carved with the traditional motifs of Timor. They are mostly made from bamboo although may be found in finely carved wood, gourds, bone, buffalo horn, gourd, coconut even small sections of pvc pipes.

The hand-woven cloth betel bags on offer here are used by the men although school children are now using them too and are called Saku or Aluk. Timorese women use grass woven bags called OKO MAMA.

Sitting beneath the tree in the heat of the day is a good time for a chew and to work on your latest container. It is a humble artform in which you will find Timorese art at its most unaffected.

Copyright Julie Emery 22/02/2022©