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Decorative Arts

Colonial inventories list a variety of specialized containers in estrados. Such coveted pieces were often manufactured with valuable materials such as silver, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, or precious woods; covered in velvet or embossed leather; lacquered or painted; and accompanied with silver or gilt-iron hardware. In Spanish American homes, these containers served as jewel boxes and coffers, small writing desks (on view elsewhere in this exhibition), sewing boxes, and receptacles for playing cards, domino tiles, chips, dice, and other gaming pieces.

Native-made coffers finished in a traditional, labor-intensive lacquer technique called barniz de Pasto were particularly prized, along with lacquer caskets and writing desks made in Asia and exported in galleons from Manila to Spain and her overseas territories.


Los inventarios coloniales enumeran una gran variedad de cajas, baúles y cofres en los estrados. Tales piezas a menudo eran fabricadas con materiales valiosos como plata, carey, nácar o maderas preciosas; otras veces estaban recubiertas en terciopelo o cuero repujado, o bien acabadas en laca o pintura; algunas veces tenían herrajes de plata o de hierro sobredorado. En las casas hispanoamericanas, estos pequeños muebles servían como joyeros y cofres, escritorios (incluidos en otra sección de la exposición), costureros y estuches para naipes, piezas de dominó, fichas, dados y otros artículos de juego.

En este contexto, junto a los objetos de laca y a los escritorios hechos en Asia y exportados en galeones desde Manila a España y sus territorios de ultramar, los cofres de hechura local acabados con barniz de Pasto, la laboriosa técnica tradicional de lacado, eran especialmente apreciados.

MEDIUM Leather-covered wood, iron, and cloth
DATES 18th century
DIMENSIONS closed: 7 3/4 x 11 1/2 x 7 3/4 in. (19.7 x 29.2 x 19.7 cm) open: 14 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 12 in. (36.8 x 29.2 x 30.5 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund
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CAPTION Casket, 18th century. Leather-covered wood, iron, and cloth, closed: 7 3/4 x 11 1/2 x 7 3/4 in. (19.7 x 29.2 x 19.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 41.1275.175. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 41.1275.175_PS6.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 41.1275.175_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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