Betel and Areca Culture exhibition review

Another feature on the betel and areca exhibition that has just opened in the National History Museum in Hanoi.

Lime pot from the 13-14th century. Viet Nam News, 20121026
Lime pot from the 13-14th century. Viet Nam News, 20121026

As red as human blood [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 26 October 2012

The Vietnamese custom of chewing betel and areca is being celebrated and explained at an exhibition that has opened in Ha Noi.

Entitled Betel and Areca Culture, the exhibition displays more than 100 objects and documents to provide an insight into the fascinating lore and culture of betel and areca chewing in Viet Nam.

Betel and areca are the most important offerings in traditional ceremonies, including betrothals, weddings and funerals. They symbolise love and the inseparable bond of marriage.

The habit of chewing betel has long been taken by common people, and it has become an integral part of the country’s traditional culture and custom.

Nguyen Van Cuong, director of the Viet Nam National Museum of History, said that a key aim of the current exhibition is to foster understanding and so provide a basis for preserving and enhancing the tradition.

In recent years, the custom of chewing betel-areca has gradually declined and seemly only continues to exist among the elderly generation, mainly in rural areas.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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