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Maduran Brass Smoking Box



Javanese court chroniclers record that smoking tobacco was made common at the funereal of Panembahan Senapati, the founder of the Second Mataram dynasty in Central Java. In the early 20'th century a businessman named Nitisemito in Kudus began mixing his tobacco with spices and cloves, claiming that they cured his asthma. Clove cigarettes became known for the crackling sound of them burning, kretek, and Nitisemito became Java's first millionaire before becoming bankrupt during the early years of Independence in the 1950's.

This brass box appears to be an early 20'th century smoking box, created after the invention of kretek, for there are four smaller boxes inside, apparently for the four spices traditionally mixed in kretek, namely, klembak, menyan, wur and cloves. The two main compartments would have once held tobacco, and under the spice boxes, there would have been specially prepared maize sheath skin, used as rolling paper.

The owner of this box would probably have been a wealthy businessman or aristocrat. Thierry Durieux collected this item in the island of Madura in the early 1980's.


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