1. A lid on every pot
Weddings have rituals, certain things you always do on a special occasion. Giving presents is one of them. Hindu families in Pakistan often give sweet things as gifts. They present them to the bride and groom in beautifully painted pots. So if you see someone walking down the street with a pot like this, there might be a wedding going on somewhere.
Attock, Pakistan; around 1950; earthenware, paint; TM-3500-168a, b
2. Would you like a bag?
In many cultures you give your present in a pretty bag. In Japan the shop often gives you a separate bag to take home, folded nice and flat. Then you can give your present later in a nice smooth bag.
Daiyasu; Kyoto, Japan; 2020; paper
3. Happy Eid!
Muslims give each other sweets and other sugary treats to celebrate the end of Ramadan. You can use a pretty box like this to give them in. Often there is a special message written on the box.
Netherlands; 2020; paper
4. On a silver platter
What a fabulous tray for serving food to your guests! The lid will keep it warm, and the delicious hot food underneath will be a lovely surprise when you lift it up.
Sumatra, Indonesia; 1945-1950; silver; RV-3361-2
5. A lid as a gift
This is a lid for covering food. But it is so pretty that the sultan of Kotawaringin gave it to an important Dutch soldier to thank him.
Kalimantan, Indonesia; around 1900; glass, metal, mica, pandan leaf, rattan; 7082-S-3752
6. A mini bride’s chest
Couples used to keep their best things in a big bride’s chest. In Poland, young men sometimes made a miniature chest to impress their girlfriend, painted so it looked just as pretty as the real thing. Perhaps they would later get married, and there would be a full-size bride’s chest.
Poland; 1962; wood, paint; RV-5715-3250
7. Lovely shiny things
At important celebrations in Afro-Surinamese culture, people sometimes give presents in a kopro beki, a copper bowl. They put all kinds of things in the bowl: food, jewellery, cigars. This one has some cleverly folded mini-headscarves in it, made of textiles from the Netherlands and Suriname. Can you see the man on the headscarf? He’s Anton de Kom, an important Surinamese freedom fighter and writer.
Netherlands; 2020; copper, cotton. This kopro beki was dressed by Jane Stjeward-Schubert from Rotterdam.
8. Gift envelopes
In Chinese culture, if you give money as a gift you use a red envelope, or hongbao. Red is a lucky colour. People usually give envelopes like these at Chinese New Year, and also for weddings and other special occasions. Sometimes people use them to bribe someone – give them money so that they will do something for you. That is why bribes are also called ‘red envelopes’ in China.
China; 2020; paper
9. Under a yellow canopy
Religious people would put their offerings in this double-decker dish. Offerings are gifts to the gods. The offering was covered with a yellow canopy. The colour yellow is used in celebrations when someone becomes a Buddhist monk and goes to live at a monastery.
Thailand; around 1970; wood, paint, iron, gold paper, plastic; TM-4113-513 a-b; TM-4113-520
10. A gift with a parasol
A prince on the island of Java would always have someone with him to hold a parasol over his head. It protected him from the sun and the rain, and the colours showed how important he was. When the prince gave a gift, someone would hold a parasol above that too, so you could see that it was an important gift.
Java, Indonesia; around 1850; bamboo, paper, gilt; RV-300-284aa