Small boxes of tortoiseshell, silver and wood decorated in silver or gold were widely prized throughout the Indies as items of status and luxury. They were used either as jewel boxes or sirih boxes. An important social custom in the Indies, to which the Dutch and other Europeans had to adjust, was the sirih ceremony, or pinang chewing. Declining a sirih quid offered at court was viewed as an insult, and Europeans soon adapted to the custom by carrying decorated sirih boxes to important social visits. Sirih boxes with internal divisions for the ingredients and accoutrements to make sirih quid are generally 20cm wide. According to Veenendaal the smaller boxes of tortoiseshell with silver mounts, but with no internal compartments, were possibly used to store ready-made sirih quids.
Cf. G. Roell & D. Viljoen, Uit Verre Streken,Exhibition catalogue, Maastricht, 2008