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Indian furniture in Singapore


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shastri nagar , Jodhpur, Rajsthan,

Indian furniture in Singapore

The enduring charm of any antique box is the history which surrounds it. Antique jewellery, writing and dressing boxes are an easy introduction into collecting antiques and offer a fascinating insight into the lives of those who first owned them.

When India was under colonial rule, local artisans created pieces of furniture specifically for expatriate residents and traders. Besides cupboards, chests and chest of drawers, small furniture pieces for storage, like writing boxes, dressing boxes, jewellery boxes, cash boxes and more, were created catering to the tastes of the European settlers.

The Indian furniture in Singapore were made in India in the early part of the 18th century. They had a practical use, as officials were obligated to send regular written communication regarding trade and political developments on a regular basis. As these had to be copied three or four times, these writing and document boxes became almost indispensable items of furniture.

Antique writing boxes blended British Regency and Victorian styles with native craftsmanship and typical Indian ornamentation. They are frequently decorated with detailed inlay work of contrasting colours such as ivory and ebony, or elaborate brass mounts in geometric and floral patterns.

Other antique boxes sometimes open in tiers, to reveal complex arrangements of compartments, sliding shelves and secret drawers that operate with spring mechanisms. These boxes are derived from the Western-style writing box, or escritoire, introduced into India during the East India Company era and used by company employees and private individuals to contain papers and writing materials. The interior has places for pens and inkpots in addition to small areas for other odds and ends.


The Indian craftsman lavished his imagination on the exterior as well as the interiors of the boxes, each one more intriguing than the other. Ivory was a favourite decorative element, works of exquisite artistry emerging from the hands of the craftsman. The finest ivory inlay and fret-work boxes came from Mysore and Vizakapatanam where these boxes were veneered in ivory and engraved with black lakh and mosaics typical to these Indian cities.

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