Photograph: Luis Pavão ,  © DDF/IMC,IPPhotograph: Luis Pavão,  © DDF/IMC,IP


Name of Object:

Mughal Cabinet

Also known as:

Contador Mughal

Location:

Lisbon, Portugal

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Ancient Art

Date of Object:

16th–17th century

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Unknown artist

Museum Inventory Number:

MNAA / 1312 Mov

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Teak, Indian rosewood and other exotic woods; natural and dyed ivory; lacquer, and brass fittings; feet inlaid and carved

Dimensions:

H: 140 cm; l: 142 cm; w: 60 cm (including feet)

Period / Dynasty

Mughal Dynasty

Workshop / Movement:

Indo-Portuguese furniture with Mughal influence

Type of object:

Domestic furniture

Period of activity:

End of the 16th century or the early 17th century

Place of production:

Sind or Gujarat

Description:

During the first half of the 16th century, the Indian sub-continent was confronted by two new foreign presences: the Portuguese, who had dominion over the coastal regions and, in the north, the forces that would later become the vast empire of the Mughals. Among the Mughal Emperors, Akbar (r. 1556–1605) stands out. He consolidated his rule and, having gained stability and subsequently reorganised the imperial finances, he demanded from his workshops creations of extraordinary quality. Akbar understood the complex reality of India with its roots in both Hindu and Islamic traditions. The imperial workshops, therefore, produced hybrid objects to reflect this reality, but also revealed the strong artistic influences of the Portuguese missionaries (namely the Jesuits), and of the Chinese and European merchants. Such were Akbar's curiosity and interest in the Christian religion of the Portuguese and their art, that he requested the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in Goa to send a Jesuit mission to his court. A refined artistic style resulted from this fusion, seen not only in paintings but also in textiles, metalwork, clothing and furniture.
This magnificent piece of furniture takes as its prototype Portuguese cabinets which had inspired those made in Goa. The decoration and the materials used are, however, from Mughal sources. The front of the cabinet is inlaid and symmetrical in 12 sections; each section a drawer decorated with human figures among vegetation in either courtly scenes or with animals. The doors are decorated with the Tree of Life, among which branches are mythical birds and elephants. Significantly, beneath, are Portuguese figures – indicated by their clothing – hunting on horseback with long lances.
This cabinet clearly shows the crossover between cultures and illustrates the luxurious items available among the European courts.

View Short Description

The term Mughal defines the dynasty founded in 1526 by Babur in Northern India and also signifies objects produced by the imperial workshops where several influences from different areas of the empire and from Portuguese missionaries combined. Based on Portuguese cabinets made in Goa, the material and the decoration are typically Mughal. Significantly, on the bottom of the doors, Portuguese figures – indicated by their clothing – are hunting on horseback with long lances.

Original Owner:

Col. Burnay

Current Owner:

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

How date and origin were established:

By stylistic analysis

How Object was obtained:

Acquisition in 1936

Selected bibliography:

Maclagan, E., Os Jesuítas e o Grão-Mogol, (trans. A. A. Dória), Porto, 1946.
Silva, M. C., “Obras de arte indo-portuguesas de carácter mongólico,” Garcia de Orta, Lisbon, 1972.
Okada, A. F., Richard, F., Cohen M., A la Cour du Grand Moghol, Paris, 1986.
Pinto, M., Mendes, H., “Art Mogol,” in Via Orientalis, Europalia/91 Portugal, Brussels 1991, pp. 143–8.
Jaffer, A., Luxury Goods from India, London, 2002.
Borges, de Sousa, C., Encompassing the globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th centuries, Washington, 2007, pp. 122–123.

Additional Copyright Information:

Copyright images: Divisão de Documentação Fotográfica/ Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação,I.P.

Citation of this web page:

Conceição  Borges de Sousa "Mughal Cabinet" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;pt;Mus11_A;23;en

Prepared by: Conceição Borges de SousaConceição Borges de Sousa

SURNAME: Borges de Sousa
NAME: Conceição

AFFILIATION: National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon

TITLE: Curator of Furniture and Oriental Art

CV:
Conceição Borges de Sousa is an Art History graduate with an MA in Museology and Heritage. She is Curator in charge of the Furniture collection and Oriental collection, in relation to the Portuguese presence, at the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and published papers and books on these topics.

Translation by: Jane Lusaka, Conceição Borges de SousaConceição Borges de Sousa

SURNAME: Borges de Sousa
NAME: Conceição

AFFILIATION: National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon

TITLE: Curator of Furniture and Oriental Art

CV:
Conceição Borges de Sousa is an Art History graduate with an MA in Museology and Heritage. She is Curator in charge of the Furniture collection and Oriental collection, in relation to the Portuguese presence, at the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and published papers and books on these topics.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PT 26

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