We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Covered box

circa 1900


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Box for betel nut utensils
    Cultural origin
    Old Imperial capital of Hue
    Nguyen dynasty 1802 - 1945 → Vietnam
    circa 1900
    Media category
    Materials used
    tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, lacquer, gesso, gold leaf, silver
    11.0 cm; 24.5 cm diam.
    Goldie Sternberg Southeast Asian art purchase fund 1992
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    This box and its various compartments held all the implements and ingredients required for the hospitable gesture of preparing and offering the betel nut concoction popular in many Southeast Asian countries. The box is skilfully inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which has been expertly shaped to fully exploit the glowing tones of opalescent pink and blue-green that can be elicited from the shell by a careful artisan. The scene on the cover, as well as the floral sprays around the sides, are Chinese in taste, and the piece could well have been made for use within the imperial court at Hue, the 19th century capital of the last royal dynasty in Vietnam, the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945).

    The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.304.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications