While relatively miniature in scale, this intricately decorated box was used as a type of portable furniture—a scaled-down version of a bureau, if you will. The front side of the cabinet opens down, revealing the collection of drawers inside. "Fall front" cabinets such as this one were first made in Europe. This specific one, made in India in the 17th century, borrows its shape from European designs, however, the floral decoration is completely Indian. The size of this cabinet, along with its small drawers, would have been used to hold writing utensils, including stationery. The fold-down front rounded out the utility of the object: the smooth finish served as a convenient writing surface.
This year marks LACMA's 50th anniversary. We're celebrating all that we've done while looking forward to what's in store for us in the next 50. Check back every week on Unframed to find a highlight of an artwork from LACMA's collection, which features over 120,000 objects that span time, the globe, and all cultures. This is 24/50 of the series.