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A Dutch-colonial Sri Lankan nedun wood and Indian padouk miniature chest of drawers with silver mounts
Sri Lanka, 18th century


H. 27.5 x W. 39 x D. 26 cm

Apart from being a highly decorative object and a status symbol, these miniature pieces of furniture also functioned as collector’s items. Just like the dollhouses were for rich women in Amsterdam, but for rich women of Dutch or mixed descent in
the colonies. They could store all kind of small precious things in such miniature furniture, but also use it to play with or show of with during teatime. Arguably also men used them, but as document boxes, since some of these miniature chests of drawers in the top drawer have partitions for writing materials, such as pens, inkpots, paper, and other utensils.

These miniatures were small and precious enough to have been transported to Europe, where practically all of them turn up. Very few of them resurface in Indonesia or Sri Lanka.

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