Very rare complete Omani wedding chest named Mandoos / Mandus in the Bombay style. There is however no evidence that a Bombay chest was made in Bombay.... Made of some sort of red teak-wood. (very heavy) Signs of wear by ropes around the chest, in the book Alarms and Excursions (London edition) you can see on a photo a similar chest being transported by a camel.
Antique Omani wooden chest named Mandoos
In an earlier article this chest was classified as a Surat type chest. Our chest complies fully with the description of a Bombay chest Type 1 (page 83/84) in the book of Sheila Unwin (Ref 1) :
Wood: Teak (very heavy and pretty)
Size (lid) 107 by 48 cm and 49 cm high
Sheeting (not very thick) perforated and punchedStuds and knobs: Handmade, small -headed, with short square shafts. Knobs on the front and on the lid
Lid: similar to Surat chest with square corner mounts with arrow like groups of studs pointing inwards. Central studding lobed
Hinges: Bombay style finials with 5 spikes above a cutout cross. Looks like an abstract palm-tree
Hasp: Elaborate Bombay style hasp with intricate cut-work
Handles: on the side C-shaped hung from sockets on a cast phoenix backplate
Drawer: Three drawers.One drawer with a Shiraz handle, one with a Rococo handle and one handle missing
Secret compartment beneath internal till. In the secret compartment a Maria Theresia Thaler and a few pieces of silver were found!
Our chest is identical to that shown in the top photo on page 83 of Unwin´s The Arab Chest (Ref 1) . These chests are very rare to find in good condition. Pearce in his book on Zanzibar 1920 Ref 9 p 226 writes: The Eastern does not believe in banks. If he has spare cash he prefers to keep it in a strong wooden chest in his house, where he knows it will be guarded by his trusty ancestral blade. These boxes are known to Europeans as Zanzibar chests.The more ornamental and smaller are favorite purchases. They are still used by Arabs in their houses and the brass studded chests are favored by Arab ladies for the safekeeping of their treasures and jewels. Some of these boxes possess a secret compartment. In purchasing a chest the following points are worthy of attention: The lid should be without join, the brass sheet should be thick. and the devices cut thereon should be well-defined patterns: In most genuine chests the remains of a gold colored tinsel will be seen underlying the brass decorations. More brass bosses there are the better; the lock hasp should be as elaborate as possible and the perforations should form a definite pattern" Note the guidance in Sheila Unwin´s book is probably better.
Brass hasp of the above Omani chest