Made by local craftsmen living in the west of India, in the trading posts of the Portuguese eastern provinces of the Malabar Coast – Damão, Goa and Cochim – this original class of Indo-Portuguese cabinets (contadores) results from a fusion of Indian and Portuguese art.
A luxury piece used for storing valuable objects, the cabinet was produced as a result of a private commission. It is marked by a heavy Islamic influence and has a painstaking inlaid decoration of sissoo and ivory, with polygonal and circular geometrical elements completely filling the teak surfaces. The whole of the piece is reinforced and decorated with shaped gilt metal mounts of intricate lacework patterns and gilded nails.
The European morphological structure of two superimposed bodies, with a visible fitted interior standing on a chest of drawers, is combined here with elements from the Hindu decorative grammar, such as the vertical supporting struts, in the form of “nagas” – mythological male elements with the head and torso of a man and the tail of a sea snake – who were the guardians of the seas and treasures.