Vietnam 100 years ago: chewing the betel-nut

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All the Annamese, rich and poor, chew the betel-nut, which makes a red saliva in the mouth, and this they spit out on floors and walls. The red stains are, of course, much more noticeable here than on the mud floors in the huts of the poorer classes, and give one a greater feeling of repugnance. Surely, if civilised enough to use whitewash, they ought to have learnt not to spit on it !

On the contrary, they are proud of the distance they can project their saliva, and one often sees small children competing with each other at this sport.

The habit of chewing destroys any claim to beauty which the women might be said to possess, for it discolours their lips, and, together with the black lacquer used to preserve their teeth, makes the mouth a most repulsive feature.

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Text: Gabrielle Vassal
On & off duty in Annam, London 1910
Photo: old photo from internet

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