Winged Horse Nut Cutter
Place of Origin: Bali
Date: 19th Century
Overall : 210mm (8.25 inches)
The practice of betel-chewing is an historical cultural phenomenon, endemic throughout South East Asia, India and large parts of the Western Pacific. Paan, in Hindi, is a chew or ‘quid’ parcel of a betel leaf, areca nut (which is sliced using a betel cutter) and lime paste. It is chewed for its stimulative and psychoactive effects. These cutters are sometimes referred to as betel nut cutters—a misnomer as there is no such thing as a betel nut.
This 19th century example is in the form of a winged stallion with chiselled and pronounced features, the wings represented by two flame-like projections at the base of the animal’s neck. Of much heavier construction than cutters from other cultures, the russet iron head is a delightful piece of craftsmanship with the handle’s silver collars providing a contrast. Brownrigg1 comments on a very similar cutter in the Samuel Eilenberg Collection, stating that the “restraint serves to highlight the quality of the ironwork”.
1 Brownrigg, Betel Cutters, 1991, p.116, no.169