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An extremely rare Dutch-colonial ebony cradle

India, Coromandel Coast, or Batavia (Jakarta), late 17th/early 18th century

L. 100.5 x W. 67 x H. 47 cm

The ebony cradle is decorated on all sides with elegant carving of flowers and vines in half-relief; in Jan Veenendaal’s classification, type I bold carving. The flower carvings are based on Dutch flower prints in Florilegia by E. Sweert published in 1612 and Den Blomhoff by Crispijn de Passe de Jonge, published in 1614 (Jan Veenendaal Wonen op de Kaap en in Batavia (Jakarta) 1602-1795, Den Haag 2002, pp. 31-32).

Holes in the head- and foot ends indicate that originally this cradle had a (removable) support which allowed it to swing like a rocking cradle. Very few ebony rocking cradles have survived, among them is one from the Coromandel Coast inlaid with ivory now in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. The present cradle probably originally had four posters to support a mosquito net.

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