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A Dutch-colonial Indian carved ebony box with silver mounts

Coromandel Coast, late 17th century

H. 17.8 x W. 36.5 x D. 24 cm

This low relief carving of curling vines and large flowers and leaves belongs to the earliest type of carving in ebony, ordered by the Dutch in Asia. The ‘Kust’, Coromandel Coast of South India, with places such as Masulipatnam and Madras, harboured an important industry for the production of carved ebony furniture ordered by the Dutch, who’s presence there was already important in the early 17th century, hence the title ‘kustmeubelen’, coastal furniture. Due to many famines and wars at the ‘Kust’ in the second half of the 17th century, many local furniture makers were forced to sell themselves as slaves to the Dutch and some ended up practising their trade in Batavia (Jakarta).