Anglo Indian Vizagapatam ivory antique sewing box


This beautiful antique sewing box is interesting for its impressive stylistic fusion, which combines a European form with Indian decorative detailing.


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The Anglo-Indian ivory and lac-engraved antique sewing box of rectangular form, finely detailed with intricate geometric design, on four silver paw feet and with twin handles, the box with hinged opening to reveal many compartments containing a sewing set, with lower writing panel underneath and with a mirror on the back panel.

The Indian town of Vizagapatam situated on the south east coast of India in proximity to the city of Madras to the South. It operated as a principle trading port from the 17th century due to its position on the major trading routes between Europe and the Far East. Vizagapatam was ideally located as a manufacturing centre with its harbour facilitating the transport of indigenous exotic timbers and materials including teak rosewood, ebony and ivory. Its proximity to Madras and Calcutta was also advantageous as goods were retailed there. In addition to the production of furniture, Vizagapatam had also been an established centre for the manufacture of dyed cottons which had attracted European traders since the 17th century such as the Dutch who established a trading post at Bimlipatam to the north in 1628, and the English, whose textile factory was founded at Vizagapatam in 1668. In 1768 the whole of the Circars region came under the control of the East India Company, with a subsequent increase in population due to the expanding lucrative coastal trade. The design of boxes of this form produced by the Indian cabinet makers was clearly based on European prototypes or pattern books. However the decoration exhibits Indian characteristics. These motifs were derived from those initially drawn by Indian artists for use as designs on brightly coloured cotton goods which had become highly fashionable in the west since the 17th century. Whilst the first items of furniture and smaller wares produced in Vizagaptam from the late 17th century relied on ivory inlay and bandings inlaid into a primary timber such as rosewood, the vogue for ivory as the principle medium had become universal by the end of the 18th century.


Country of Origin
Asian, Indian
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Indian Interest
Ivory, Lacquer, Silver
Black, White


19 cm / 7.5 inches
45 cm / 17.7 inches
30 cm / 11.8 inches


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