Friday, 1 April 2011

Supari Nut Pendant

Supari nuts (Nepalese name) can be commonly found in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia and parts of East Afica. It is also commonly known as betel nut as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves and sold as Paan. The botanical name for the palm that produces these nuts is areca catechu.

My interest in supari is strictly for its beauty and potential use for jewellery. In its dried state, it is easier to carve and shape than bone or horn and offers a unique  combination of natural brown and ivory patterns. Two sizes of the nut can be found here in Nepal, the smaller of the two I will craft into beads with the largest providing enough material for a fair sized pendant. The photo below shows a pendant that I crafted for our 2011 collection's photoshoot. In the coming months I will work more with this nut and the results will be available to view through our online shop.

The areca nut is not a true nut but rather a drupe. In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a stone. In the ripe fruit the husk becomes yellow or orange and, as it dries, the fruit inside hardens to a wood-like consistency.

Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, although the effects vary from person to person. The effect of chewing betel and the nut is relatively mild and could be compared to drinking a cup of coffee. In my experience, drinking coffee will always come before chewing areca nuts!