Lot 20
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Camphor wood, brass
16 x 34 x 18 in (40.6 x 86.4 x 45.7 cm)

Camphor wood chests derive their name from camphor wood or cinnamomum camphora, an evergreen tree south of the Yangtze river and native to the country. Besides being a natural repellent against moths and wood-boring insects, it also gave off a pungent odour that aided in preserving its contents.

Camphor chests were ascribed varying cultural uses in different countries. In China, these trunks were used for storage and travel. During the Ming dynasty, these chests were used to store royal robes, a practice that later became common among Chinese families, who would use it for storing blankets, clothes, linen, as well as food, personal papers and other keepsakes. They were also intended as part of the bridal dowry for a young woman to keep her precious silks and belongings until marriage. Later in the 18th and 19th century, it became common to use them in trade for carrying goods like tea, silk, spices and porcelain from China to European countries, while the more ornate ones, with carvings of dragons, ships and animals, ended up as decorative pieces in European living rooms.

The current lot is a 19th century chest made of camphor wood, adorned with brass clasps and cornices. Believed to have been made during the reign of the British, the embellishments indicate a confluence of Western and local traditions and crafts. An image of a deity inside the chest suggests that the chest was used to store religious items, including scriptures and books.

  Lot 20 of 57  

15 APRIL 2015


Winning Bid
Rs 1,02,000

(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)

A Period Camphor Chest


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