CHESTS

DOORS

In the majority of local (Southern Arabia) households prior to the start of modern development around 1950, chests were the only form of furniture and therefore are one of the few truly indigenous antiques. Not only did they form a functional purpose but were also used as a medium for the expression of decorative art. Like the treasures they once held within their dark and woody depths, the beautiful hand made chests once used during the past several centuries across the Arabian peninsular, are becoming more rare with each passing year. No two chests are exactly alike and every one should be considered a work of art in its own right. The oldest chests available at Showcase date back to the arrival of the Portuguese in Oman in the early 16th century. Made of Brazilian mahogany and often secured with a complex iron clasp and lock, they belonged to Portuguese officers, administrators and traders and were used to store personal possessions and weapons. When the explorers returned home they frequently left the chests behind - a reminder of their presence in that area. The Omanis later copied the style, including the small covered compartments on the inside, however, adjustments were made accordingly. They used teak, rosewood and jackfruit wood instead of mahogany and decorated the chests with dark wood beading, brass flowers, emblems and flat-pressed brass plates with Islamic patterns reflecting the inherent culture of the area.  The prized Mandoos chest was the most highly decorated with three or sometimes four drawers at the base and is referred to as a ‘wedding chest’. It is possible to categorise chests by design such as Shiraz, Surat, Bombay, Malibar. These titles are not indicative of the origin but rather reflect their style and therefore they are better categorised by use such as wedding, domestic storage, sea or pearl chests. All our antiques come with a certificate of authenticity stating full description and date.

In the majority of local (Southern Arabia) households prior to the start of modern development around 1950, chests were the only form of furniture and therefore are one of the few truly indigenous antiques. Not only did they form a functional purpose but were also used as a medium for the expression of decorative art.

Like the treasures they once held within their dark and woody depths, the beautiful hand made chests once used during the past several centuries across the Arabian peninsular, are becoming more rare with each passing year. No two chests are exactly alike and every one should be considered a work of art in its own right.

The oldest chests available at Showcase date back to the arrival of the Portuguese in Oman in the early 16th century. Made of Brazilian mahogany and often secured with a complex iron clasp and lock, they belonged to Portuguese officers, administrators and traders and were used to store personal possessions and weapons. When the explorers returned home they frequently left the chests behind - a reminder of their presence in that area. The Omanis later copied the style, including the small covered compartments on the inside, however, adjustments were made accordingly. They used teak, rosewood and jackfruit wood instead of mahogany and decorated the chests with dark wood beading, brass flowers, emblems and flat-pressed brass plates with Islamic patterns reflecting the inherent culture of the area. 

The prized Mandoos chest was the most highly decorated with three or sometimes four drawers at the base and is referred to as a ‘wedding chest’. It is possible to categorise chests by design such as Shiraz, Surat, Bombay, Malibar. These titles are not indicative of the origin but rather reflect their style and therefore they are better categorised by use such as wedding, domestic storage, sea or pearl chests.

All our antiques come with a certificate of authenticity stating full description and date.

 

JEWELLERY

For hundreds of years doors have been one of the most important forms of decorative expression to be found in buildings of the UAE and Oman. Their beauty lies in their ability to embrace both a functional and decorative role. Traditionally local interiors were functional rather than overtly decorative. Paintings and sculptures were not generally kept and displayed for their visual appeal and decoration was reserved for utility items such as copperware, weapons, daggers, chests and doors. What makes a door a piece of art in it’s own right is carved decoration. Doors were commissioned by the head of the household and made for a specific building. The amount and quality of the carving was dependent on the price of the door and would therefore reflect the status of the household. A beautifully carved door was therefore regarded as a status symbol and a sign of hospitality. It is interesting to note that the reverse of the door or inside was never decorated, in fact it was always very crudely finished. The door carver would have worked by eye and memory so variations occur even of the same design making every door unique. There are many traditional motifs used in designs, each of which could be grouped together in an infinite number of ways to express different meanings. Due to Islamic tradition perfect symmetry was avoided and imperfections or imbalances were deliberately included in the design in the same way as practiced by the carpet weavers of the Islamic world. The basic construction has been used for the last 500 years with very few variations. Essentially the complete door consists of two wooden door panels set behind a heavy wooden frame. The doors themselves are made from local hard wood for security and are always between two and six centimetres thick. The doors opened by pivoting on a wooden extension or pivot point at the top and bottom of the each door panel. All doors were made to open inwards, iron hinges were never used. For those people interested in obtaining a local door the supply is very limited and quickly depleting. All our doors come with a certificate of authenticity describing their style, origin and approximate age.

For hundreds of years doors have been one of the most important forms of decorative expression to be found in buildings of the UAE and Oman. Their beauty lies in their ability to embrace both a functional and decorative role. Traditionally local interiors were functional rather than overtly decorative. Paintings and sculptures were not generally kept and displayed for their visual appeal and decoration was reserved for utility items such as copperware, weapons, daggers, chests and doors.

What makes a door a piece of art in it’s own right is carved decoration. Doors were commissioned by the head of the household and made for a specific building. The amount and quality of the carving was dependent on the price of the door and would therefore reflect the status of the household. A beautifully carved door was therefore regarded as a status symbol and a sign of hospitality. It is interesting to note that the reverse of the door or inside was never decorated, in fact it was always very crudely finished. The door carver would have worked by eye and memory so variations occur even of the same design making every door unique. There are many traditional motifs used in designs, each of which could be grouped together in an infinite number of ways to express different meanings. Due to Islamic tradition perfect symmetry was avoided and imperfections or imbalances were deliberately included in the design in the same way as practiced by the carpet weavers of the Islamic world.

The basic construction has been used for the last 500 years with very few variations. Essentially the complete door consists of two wooden door panels set behind a heavy wooden frame. The doors themselves are made from local hard wood for security and are always between two and six centimetres thick. The doors opened by pivoting on a wooden extension or pivot point at the top and bottom of the each door panel. All doors were made to open inwards, iron hinges were never used.

For those people interested in obtaining a local door the supply is very limited and quickly depleting. All our doors come with a certificate of authenticity describing their style, origin and approximate age.

Original Omani silver jewellery is made from melted down Marie Theresa dollars, also known as Thalers (the Omani silversmiths only source of silver, and the main currency in Oman until as late as the 1970s). Minted in 1780 in Austria, Thalers were brought to the gulf by European explorers and merchants. With 70% silver content, this silver has a soft buttery feel with no sharp edges. Many pieces of Omani silver have the hands of Fatima as decoration - she was the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter and a representation of her hand is a good luck symbol. A woman’s jewellery was not handed down to her daughters when she died as in Western culture, but was melted down and made into new pieces. For this reason really ancient jewellery is rare.  All our jewellery is authentic, guaranteed and certified and the collection includes various Mazrad and Hirtz necklaces, earring, rings and bracelets which usually present in pairs.

Original Omani silver jewellery is made from melted down Marie Theresa dollars, also known as Thalers (the Omani silversmiths only source of silver, and the main currency in Oman until as late as the 1970s). Minted in 1780 in Austria, Thalers were brought to the gulf by European explorers and merchants. With 70% silver content, this silver has a soft buttery feel with no sharp edges. Many pieces of Omani silver have the hands of Fatima as decoration - she was the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter and a representation of her hand is a good luck symbol. A woman’s jewellery was not handed down to her daughters when she died as in Western culture, but was melted down and made into new pieces. For this reason really ancient jewellery is rare. 

All our jewellery is authentic, guaranteed and certified and the collection includes various Mazrad and Hirtz necklaces, earring, rings and bracelets which usually present in pairs.