A SRI LANKAN EBONY AND SATINWOOD-INLAID AMBOYNA-BURR DOCUMENT CHEST WITH BRASS MOUNTS

18th century

On ebony plinth, the sides with inlaid cartouche, the top with an inlaid star, the interior with compartments for pens, ink and sand.

H. 12 x W. 46 x D. 31 cm

 

Note:

Senior VOC officials at the many outposts far away from Batavia were obliged to keep diaries, not only of all trade and political developments but also of the customs and habits of the indigenous populations, including their houses, clothing, food, drink and religion. The temperament of the people had to be indicated (cruel, friendly, faithful or false), the way in which they brought up their children, in particular, the ones begotten by Dutchmen or other Europeans. In addition, detailed descriptions of agriculture, animal husbandry, mining and industries were included. Everything had to be copied three or four times, making portable writing-desks and document boxes indispensable items of furniture. Therefore many document boxes were made and quite a few have survived.

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