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Malabar Box    

Wood and brass
20th Century


Height: 8.5 in (22 cm)

This wooden box with brass fittings is popularly known as a 'dowry box', and comes from the Malabar region of South India. Such boxes were given to a bride by her parents on the occasion of her wedding, containing jewellery, money and other valuables. The shape of the box resembles a house, and therefore is very symbolic of the new home that the bride will be going to. The brass work on the front and back of the lid of this box is shaped artistically, and there is a decorative latch.

These boxes are crafted from strong wood, generally cut into the required shapes and then put together. However, this particular example is rather special since the box and the lid have been carved from a single block of rosewood, which requires precision work. The brass work is of excellent quality and is hand beaten. The box is old and light in weight, unlike more recent reproductions. Such boxes were always considered prized possessions by their owners.

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