This antique Berber dowry trunk was originally filled with fine clothes and bedding and presented by a husband to his future wife. Made in southern Morocco, the chest dates from the early 1900s and is durable and fragrant tamarisk (salt cedar) wood. It has been recovered in hand-decorated leather, with silver and brass repousse, camel bone, and gemstone adornments.
The front of this large trunk has two large silver melange repousse hamsa hands, each with a large piece of amber copal resin in the middle. In the center under the beautifully engraved latch is a large silver melange flower, containing a center of red coral. Above and below the hands are four diamond-shaped pieces of carved camel bone, each framed in silver melange repousse, representing eyes to ward off the evil eye. Additional hamsa hands and fibula (brooches used to attach a head scarf to clothing) decorate the front of the chest. Antique coins and metal rivets provide further visual delight (and protection).
The top of the chest is just as resplendent. In the center is a large hamsa hand, with four additional hands at each corner. Four silver melange repousse flowers and four camel-bone "eyes" frame the eye-like design, inlaid with more amber copal, coral, malachite and lapis lazuli. Two more hamsa hands are at the very back. More antique coins and metal rivets, some stained with henna to a ruddy color.
Each side of the trunk has a silver melange flower, two camel-bone eyes to each side of the flower, with hamsa hands in silver melange above and below inlaid with coral and lapis lazuli. A large repousse silver flower graces the lid on each side. And then there are the coins, identifiable as Moroccan Rial from the early 20th century. The coins are quite worn but the design is still visible.
The entirety of the chest is covered in hand-painted Berber leather, with geometric tribal designs visible underneath all the adornment. The back and inside is lined in hand-painted leather, and all edges are protected by a thick repousse silver melange. The side carrying handles are worn metal.
This chest, known as a sandok, was sourced from the southern Morocco desert town of Zagora, where it was refurbished at the Amazraou cooperative, home to some of the finest woodworkers in the country. The chest weighs more than 35lbs.
All sales on Silver Sahara abide by fair trade principals, and benefit the native artisans to help ensure continuation of traditional craft techniques.
Handmade; please allow for minor imperfections and staining due to age. Please inquire with any questions or for more pictures.