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The Hohenzollern Cabinet From Royal Collections

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Exotica, Natural History & Works of Art

The Hohenzollern Cabinet From Royal Collections

An exceptional Indo-Portuguese cabinet with royal provenance

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The Hohenzollern Cabinet From Royal Collections

Indo-Portuguese

Late 17th Century

Height 143.5 cm Width 90 cm Depth 92 cm (56.5 x 35.5 x 36.25 in)

This exceptional cabinet is a superb example of Indo-Portuguese furniture and has a Royal provenance; it belonged to the German Imperial family and has the addition of a brass inventory plaque with the initials F.R making reference to Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha who married a Portuguese Infanta.

The cabinet is of Indian Coromandel sumptuously inlaid with scrolling designs of mythical sea creatures, and naginas with double coiled tails intertwined with foliage and flowers all exquisitely formed of natural and stained ivory. The top and sides of the cabinet have additional ivory inlays of lions, powerful symbols in the Hindu religion, and the inlaid figures forming the legs of the cabinet have faces carved of solid ivory an extremely precious commodity.

The naginas, here decorated with necklaces and skirts, are water spirits and secondary gods of the Hindu pantheon who are protective spirits of rivers, lakes and fountains while the serpent-like sea creature is Madara, the mount of both Ganga, the goddess of the river Ganges and also of the god of the sea and sky, Varuna. The faces of the full length corner caryatid figures which support the cabinet together with the face of the central nagina are likely to have been carved by Chinese craftsmen working in Goa or could have been a special commission from the Chinese ivory workshops in Macau.

This sumptuously crafted cabinet can only be compared to the very small collection found in the Nationalmuseum of Stockholm which were commissioned from India in 1580 by Baron Clas Fleming, an important Swedish aristocrat.

Provenance:
The cabinet came from Monrepos castle and belonged to the German Imperial family. The initials F.R are found on a brass inventory plaque and make reference to Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha who married a Portuguese Infanta who brought with her to Sigmaringen Castle, many Portuguese furnishings and decorative objects.

Bibliography:
Luxury Goods from India A Jaffer, Victoria & Albert Museum 2002
Mobiliari Vol 2 Freire, Lisbon 2002
Marfiles de las provincias ultraarinas orientales des Espana y Portugal by M M E Marcos, Monterrey 1997

1146/0003

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