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  • Place of origin:

    Southern Province (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ebony and other woods, with brass locks and silvered brass mounts

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Furniture makers in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) made this ebony cabinet. They copied the form from a 'cabinet, secretary, and bookcase' in the Baroque Revival style by William and Charles Freeman of Norwich. The Freemans exhibited it at the Great Exhibition of 1851. However, the decoration of the V&A cabinet was designed to reflect where it was made. The lavish use of ebony, a highly prized timber, illustrates the natural wealth of Ceylon. The construction and decorative carving of the case displays the skill of the Ceylonese craftsmen. The vegetation illustrated in the decoration shows the range and abundance of fruits and vegetables on the island. The pairs of figures from different regions give an idea of the appearance and dress of island's inhabitants.

Place of Origin

Southern Province (made)


ca. 1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved ebony and other woods, with brass locks and silvered brass mounts


Height: 231 cm, Width: 156 cm, Depth: 73 cm

Descriptive line

Cabinet, ebony, c.1895, Galle District

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jaffer, Amin Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A Catalogue of the Collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum. London : V&A Publications, 2001. ISBN 1851773185. p.380-1., pl.388

pp.114-115, ill.
Luxury goods from India : the art of the Indian cabinet maker / Amin Jaffer. London: V&A Publications, 2002 Number: 1851773819

Subjects depicted

Thistle; Pineapple; Column; Elephant; Lotus; Egg and dart moldings; Woman; Vine; Date palm; Coconut palm; Toddy palm; Tree; Palmyra palm; Rose; Man; Arch; Fruit; Leaf; Acanthus




South & South East Asia Collection

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