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A VERY FINE SRI LANKAN IVORY AND GOLD BIBLE BOX

18th century

Carved on the lid with leaves and flowers, with openwork gold mounts.

H. 4.7 x W. 12.7 x D. 9.9 cm

Note:

On their way to church, the Dutch or Indo-Dutch ladies were followed by a slave girl carrying a precious little bible box. To show off their wealth these boxes were made of gold, silver, ivory or at least very expensive woods. In 1753 Governor-General Jacob Mossel apparently esteemed it necessary to curb this ostentatious display of wealth.

In his “Regulation against pomp and splendour” it was decreed, among other things, that only the wives or widows of the highest-ranking VOC officials were allowed to be seen publicly with gold or silver boxes. This ivory and gold bible box may not have been for one of the very highest-ranking ladies but it certainly was for one of the higher-ranking.