Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Indian gift

This exquisite Anglo-Indian ivory box is from my own personal treasures, and one I felt compelled to share. Especially given the fondness that both Becker Minty and our clients have for small decorative boxes.
It is a piece I have owned for many, many years, purchased from an antique dealer I worked for.
I had long coveted it, and although felt quite sure that it would one day be mine, it was not something I could afford, and was waiting for the right time.
That right time came sooner than I'd imagined when I thought that one of my colleagues had sold it.
I felt such distress that when I realised that another ivory box had in fact sold, I knew I just had to buy this one.
I use the term 'buy' loosely, for I in fact worked 2 days a week without pay until I'd worked the equivalent of the box's value, at which point it became mine.
And I continue to love it as much as I did when I first saw it.

It dates from the mid to late 19th century and is a beautiful remnant of the British Raj. 
If we turn a blind eye to the reality of imperialism, we can savour the romantic ideal of an aristocratic English life transposed to harsh tropical climes. 
Anglo-Indian, along with other true Colonial pieces, represent an elegant fusion of classical lines and local craftsmanship. 
This particular piece does that perfectly. 
Cased in ivory, clearly a local product, worked by Indian artisans, it is decorated with a technique that is essentially like that of the tattoo artist. The decoration itself is virtually English rococo.
And as for its function: it's a glove box. For kid gloves, no less. Soft, luxurious and fairly unnecessary in India.
So when you're not wearing them you pop them in this box, protected from the humidity by the sandalwood interior. 
And that interior still releases the beautiful aroma of sandalwood. 
After 140 years.
As long as glorious pieces like this survive the sun really never will set on the British Empire.