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Teakwood Arab Chest – SOLD

Mid/Late 19th century

SGD 6,400

A rare and well preserved chest of solid plank construction in teakwood, beautifully decorated with brass.
The term “Arab chest” more correctly denotes ownership rather than provenance. In reality, early chests were trade items collected by Arabs from the ports on areas on the west coast of India. They were mainly used for storage on ships during transport or in houses to store valuables.

Arab chests are of boarded construction with front, back and sides butted together and nailed. No screws or glue are used. This is a so called “Bombay” chest which can be identified by the shape of the hinges, hasps and handles, type of studs, design of mounts and the quality of the applied sheeting.
The Bombay hasp is large and intricately filigreed. The Bombay hinges end in a spiky coxcomb with five points beneath which is a cut out cross.
The significance of the cross may well be Christian, having regard to the Portuguese influence on the Malabar coast and the proximity of the two areas. The studs are small with short shafts and the sheeting is of a light weight and is punched and pierced.

Where the chest was made is unsure. It is probable that workshops or communities in villages in outlying areas south of Bombay sent their products to Bombay for marketing, hence their designation in the trade as “Bombay” chests.


India - Bombay
H: 62 cm W: 125 cm D: 62 cm
H: 24½” W: 49” D: 24½”

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