A SRI LANKAN JACKWOOD AND EBONY CHEST
Late 17th century
With bun-front feet and ebony carved lockplate.
H. 75 x W. 113 D. 55 cm
The unusual feature of this chest is the carved ebony lock plate with two mermaid figures similar to the carvings found in Coromandel Coast ebony furniture of the 17th century. In
a mixture of Christian and Hindu motifs a scallop shell, symbol of the Virgin Mary but also of the goddess Venus, is carved with two mermaids, another western element, on both sides, resting on two mythic sea beast (makaras). Indo-Portuguese, Goan cabinets/contadors may also have this mixture of Christian and Hindu motifs, in the form of mermaids-supports sometimes resting on small devilish/monkey-like figures.