Betel-nut cutters are used to slice and peel shavings from the hard areca nut. Over the years the areca nut has become well-known as the betel-nut because it is the main ingredient of the ‘quid’ formed by folding a betel leaf around a variety of ingredients. People chew the quid to free its flavors inside and it acts as a stimulant. It plays a major role in amusing, in courtship and marriage, and in the traditional manners of the royal courts, where betel sets still form part of the state regalia.
Betel cutters, the utensil used in the composition of the material, were and are items of social prestige, reflecting the wealth and taste of their owner, designed and decorated with the same care fancy on other prestige items such as jewelry and weapons. Free from any iconography restrictions, craftsmen have been able to give rein to their creativity, and the result is a huge variety of designs ranging from classical forms in the Mughal tradition to others which can be whimsical, enticing or even distorted.