Betel Leaf Shaped Pandan Box

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Size (WxDxH): 4.7 x 5.7 x 2 inches
Medium: Brass
Origin: Bijapur (Vijayapura)


This is a brass, Deccan or Mughal betel leaf shaped, pandan box, from Bijapur (Vijayapura) in Karnataka. Engraved poppy designs on the lid are enclosed by a plaited betel leaf shape, and then by open fretwork scrollwork. The sides of the lid have a repeating engraved flower motif, while the sides of the box repeat the engraved poppy designs and have windows of fretwork that include a single poppy within the design. These early pandans had no compartments inside and so were probably used for serving ready rolled paan. A similar shaped pandan can be found in Christie's and in Mark Zebrowski's "Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India". He describes the pandan and its uses on pages 262-279.
The history of chewing paan dates back about 2,500 years and its beautifully crafted accessories elevated it to a level of ceremony, much like the Japanese and tea. The word pandan was coined during the Sultanate and Mughal period joining the Hindi word paan to the Persian suffix dan. “The offering of the royal paan to a courtier was a sign of extraordinary favour, and an even greater honour would be the offering of the betel container (pandan),” says Zebrowski.