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An Anglo-Indian colonial envelope and dressing box in the form of a miniature wardrobe

India, Hoshiapur, late 19th century


H. 66.5 x W. 34.5 x D. 18 cm
H. 99 cm (with mirror extracted)

With a label at the back reading: “L. Khanaya Lal Brij Lal, Ivory, Brass, Wood Work, Manufacturers, P.O. Hooshiapur”. It was unusual in India for craftsmen to apply labels with their names to their furniture and Khanaya Lal Brij Lal was one of the few makers known to do so.

The wardrobe consists of a base with two hinged doors beneath two stepped tiers, from the top tier a toilet mirror can be pulled out. The front and sides are decorated with inlaid birds and vases with flowers. Behind the doors are four graduated compartments for papers and envelopes over a drawer. The inside is also decorated with vases, flowers and scrolling vines.

Hoshiapur in Punjab was annexed by the British East India Company in 1849. Only after 1870 European-style furniture was made, using local decorative techniques. The character of the designs is Islamic-Persian. The marriage of inlays and European-style furniture was due to W. Goldstream, Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiapur District from 1880 until 1883.

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