A charming satin and rosewood, ebony and teak collectors’ table-cabinet with ivory knobs


Sri Lanka, second half 18th century

H. 86.5 x W. 62.5 x D. 34.7 cm

In the top of the shaped cornice, there is a carving of a butterfly or moth. Under the cornice two panelled doors with scorched chequered motif, and under the doors one long drawer. When the doors are locked, so is the drawer. Behind the two doors, there are eight drawers, suitable to store small collectors’ items, such as a coin collection, or mineral specimens, small shells, collections of animal teeth, etc. The 17th and 18th centuries saw a wide-spread interest in exotic cultures and collecting of botanical, zoological and geological specimens. Specialist cabinets to store and display these items were a natural extension of this collecting mania. This particular cabinet was probably meant for collecting butterflies, as the carving in the hood suggests.