Browse our Sumba basket catalog (6)
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Tangawahilu Wala Mangata
Tanga Bola Uhu
Mbola Happa Pallaku
Tangawahilu Kawudu Kalimang
Ndabi Wai
Ndabi Ri
Tangawahilu Wala Mangata
Betel Basket (2005)
  • Made by Tamu Rambu Ma Ayu
  • Rindi village, Sumba
  • Lontar palm leaf
  • Width 21 cm. (8 in)
  • Code # C.BS.RE.003A

Ma Ayu and other basket weavers display their work, Rindi, Sumba
The people of Rindi offer betel to visitors as a sign of hospitality and respect; they say that betel nut opens the way to honest and friendly conversation. The Sumbanese would bring out a basket like this to honor a high-ranking guest. Tamu Rambu Ma Ayu used a rare technique to create the raised image of a rooster in the center of this piece. The rooster is an important animal in the Sumbanese tradition; locals believe that roosters bear witness to ritual proceedings as representatives of the ancestors.

Users chew a sliver of a nut from the pinang palm tree (Areca catechu), the leaves and peppery flower spikes of the male sireh plant (Piper betle), and powdered lime to produce a mild intoxication--and a mass of red saliva. Chewing betel also suppresses the appetite, a useful side-effect in areas where food and water are not plentiful.