It represents the best of Burmese silversmithing with repousse work in high relief.
Water buffalo horn, lacquer, pigments, silver.
New waxed cotton cord.
19th to early 20th century
UK antique art market
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A very rare flask used by Chin men of Burma for sipping nicotine water.
According to period sources, the Chin women would smoke a water pipe that infuses the water with nicotine, which the men use to fill their small flasks that are carried in their loinclothes. They sip the nicotine-water and spit it out.1
Two comparable flasks were collected by Dr. Erik Hjalmar East, a Baptist missionary who served at Fort Hakha in Burma from 1901-1910. The pieces were later donated by his descendants to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, Oregon where they remain in the East Burma collection, accession numbers #8-94 and #8-93.
The flasks collected by Dr. Erik Hjalmar East.
Carved of the tip of a water buffalo horn, and following its general shape. It was then lacquered with red and black lacquer and inlaid with strips of silver. It comes with a small, perfectly fitting cover that is retained by a later piece of red cord.
It still retains its smell of nicotine.
1. Chester U. Strait; The Chin People: A Selective History and Anthropology of the Chin People. XLibris, 2014. Page 276.
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