Betel Nut

May 9, 2023

“Pahikung textiles play a significant role in Sumbanese culture and traditions. They are more than just fabrics but are symbolic representations of the island's rich history, beliefs, and values.”

When out in the field sourcing and connecting with the local communities in Sumba it is all about hospitality, grace and ritual.

As you walk into the megalithic villages surrounded by ancestral tombs, the most respected member of the community greets you with a big smile and red laced teeth. If new to this it can leave you in wonder with the red stained teeth and spitting. Why? You might ask yourself.

It is actually betel nut, a traditional stimulant that is widely used and offered. The offering of betel nut plays an important role in the social and cultural practices of the island's inhabitants.

The betel nut is presented on a tray along with other traditional items such as tobacco, lime and a small knife.

The process of preparing and consuming betel nut is also an important part of their culture. The nut is sliced and mixed with lime and tobacco before being wrapped in a betel leaf and chewed. The combination of these ingredients produces a mild stimulant effect, which is believed to help with digestion and provide a sense of relaxation.

The offering of betel nut in is considered a symbol of friendship, trust, and respect. It’s a way of welcoming guests and building relationships within the community.

Once we have been welcomed and after sharing smiles and pigeon bahasa chats their collections of ikats slowly come out of their treasure troves. Months and months of labour and beauty.

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