A betel nut cutter






19th century


Forging, damascening


Steel, gold


Length 170 mm; width 58 mm

COMMENT. The presented item is a special tool for cutting betel nuts. It is known by different names, including "supari", "sarota" and "kalakati". A feature of the design of the cutter is the presence of one sharp working edge, which cuts or splits a nut when pressed. Such cutters still occupy a sufficient prominent place in the everyday life of many peoples of South, Southeast and East Asia, especially India, where the tradition of chewing shredded betel nuts has long been widespread. Frequently, cutters are elegantly decorated. In reality, betel nut, also known as pinang nut or areca nut, is the seed of a betel palm (Latin name: Areca catechu). Small pieces of nut are wrapped in a leaf of a betel palm along with lime, seasoning them with spices for an additional taste. The mixture has a fresh, pungent taste, however, depending on the species of betel palm, it can be very bitter. Due to the high content of red pigment in the betel nuts, the saliva, tongue and oral cavity are stained brick red when chewing. The relatively high level of certain alkaloids in betel nuts enhances salivation and additionally excites the nervous system, causing a mild narcotic effect. Betel nuts are a traditional offering in Hinduism. Currently, they are also used as medicinal raw materials.