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A fine ‘Vizagapatam’ pen-engraved bone inlaid rosewood writing box


India, Vizagapatam, mid-18th century

H. 18.6 x W. 58 x D. 43.2 cm

The distinctive feature of this writing slope is the flowering tree in the centre of the slope. Amin Jaffer comments on this kind of decoration: “Towards the mid-eighteenth century, lids came to be less densely inlaid and were usually decorated around the edges with broad floral borders and at the centre with a circular or rectangular floral design, a floral spray or a flowering tree.” (A. Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, London, 2001, p. 188). The same designs of a flowering tree can be seen in the mid-18th century chintzes from Masulipatnam, the Dutch trade post along the Coromandel Coast.

Many similar writing boxes were made for Dutch and English East India Company officials moving around between many faraway trading posts. Two writing slopes of this type belonged to Governor Clive of India.

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