VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Cabinet
PNA INV 405
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This piece of furniture which is one of a pair, exemplifies the singularity and richness of Indo-Portuguese artistic furniture, being a paradigmatic example among this Palace collection; joining together of Indian and Portuguese artistic influences, in the context of commercial relations between these two zones since the end of the 15th century. The Indian influence is visible in the materials and decoration. The base, being teak and local ebony, are used together with small inlays of ivory. The motives assume a style of Indian aspect: the tiger’s heads and the coiling vegetation finishing in lotus buds (a part of Indian mythology). Typically Indian is the ornamental work that spreads from the metallic corners down to the carved legs. This cabinet represents “Naginas” the complement feminine of sacred serpents with a human torso. They symbolize fertility, interpreted as mermaids by the Portuguese of the time. The 16th century Portuguese inspiration is present on the structure of the piece, composed essentially with uncovered drawers which make it different from the European cabinets of that period, which have doors hiding the drawers.

History of the Object
For many pieces of “Indo-Portuguese” furniture there is insufficient written documentation, and as a result, it is difficult to reconstruct the specific history of each piece. In the case of the group of cabinets called “Goa”, it is thought that many of these came from the area of Goa to Portugal. This does not mean that they were produced in Goa, in fact they could have been produced in another Indian State. Specially destined for the Portuguese market in India or in Portugal, they could also appear in other European countries. We cannot exclude their use by the populations from Indian Territory as well.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Teak and ebony. Knobs and inlays in ivory. Metalwork in beaten brass. Part of a set of two. 
Measurements
Width 81 cm. Height 119 cm. Length 42 cm.  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
India; probably Goa 
Geography
India 
Time period
AD 17th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
17th Century - 18th Century; 1660-1734 
Function
cabinet 
Acquisition
Part of the Portuguese Royal House Collections. The Royal Family lived in the Palace until 1910 when the monarchy fell. The Palace with its collections was turned into a museum in 1968. 
Copyright
The images shall not be published or reproduced without written permission of the Institute of Museums and Conservation/Ajuda National Palace 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Ajuda National Palace 
Museum
Ajuda National Palace 
Credit line
Institute of Museums and Conservation/Ajuda National Palace 

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