Sri Lanka or possibly India, 18th century

1. Ebony, with silver mounts

H. 8 x W. 22.5 x D. 14.5 cm


2. Coromandel wood, with red copper mounts

H. 9.3 x W. 23.5 x D. 17 cm

3. Coromandel wood, with silver mounts (sold)
H. 4.5 x W. 15.8 x D. 9.9 cm


4. Tortoiseshell and silver
H. 5 x W. 22 x D. 12 cm


5. Tortoiseshell and silver

H. 4.3 x W. 17 x D. 9.5 cm


The function of bible boxes in the Dutch East Indies was just as much a status symbol, to show off one's wealth on the way to church, as it was to hold a small bible or hymnbook. Bible boxes existed in gold, silver, ivory, sometimes inlaid with precious stones, and in Coromandel or ebony wood. In the Dutch East Indies on the way to church, the women tried to display their fortune by the costliness of her bible box. The highest-ranking women had gold bible boxes, inlaid with precious stones, carried by a slave. The lower-ranking women had wooden bible boxes as the present ones. In 1754 Governor-General Jacob Mossel decreed that only the wives and widows of a Governor-General, Director General, Councillor of India or President of the Justice Council, were allowed to carry golden boxes adorned with precious stones in public.


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