Pandan box for betel nut and spices

Historical period(s)
18th century
Silver gilt
H x W x D: 15.2 x 20.3 x 15.3 cm (6 x 8 x 6 in)
India, Deccan plateau
Credit Line
Purchase β€” funds provided by Rajinder K. Keith and Narinder K. Keith in honor of their father, Sardar Gurdit Singh Keith
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Metalwork


bird, flower, India, makara

Taj Enterprises, Bombay (modern-day Mumbai), India, method of acquisition unknown [1]

Alain Duchauffour (1933-2014), purchased from Taj Enterprises [2]

Peter Marks Works of Art, New York, NY probably purchased from Alain Duchauffour [3]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from Peter Marks Works of Art [4]

[1] See Taj Enterprises, invoice addressed to Alain Duchauffour, 36 rue de Fontaines, Sevres, France, and dated October 3, 1962, copy in object file. The letterhead on the Taj Enterprises invoice reads β€œTAJ ENTERPRISES / EXPORTERS / All kinds of / Handicrafts, Readymade Garments, Imitation Jewellery [sic] / Rehmani Building, 4th Floor, / 67, Mutton Street.”

[2] See note 1. Alain Duchauffour of Sevres, France was a collector of South and Southeast Asian art. He appears to have worked in the banking industry and was active in Asia. He also sold a Thai sculpture to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

[3] See Peter Marks Works of Art invoice, dated June 17, 1987 (signed July 6, 1987), copy in object file.

[4] See note 3.

Research Completed October 21, 2022

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Taj Enterprises
Alain Duchauffour 1933-2014
Peter Marks Works of Art, Inc. active 1960-2002


The offering of pan, a digestive of crushed betel nut, spices, and lime paste rolled into the leaf of a betel plant, is an Indian social ritual that conveys hospitality and refinement. Scrolled foliate designs interspersed with birds adorn this gilt silver pan box. The gilding suggests it was made for an aristocratic family. Its pierced openwork and floral motifs relate the box to metalwork produced in the Deccani plateau, a region in central India.

Published References
  • America's Smithsonian: Celebrating 150 Years. Washington, 1996. p. 81.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.