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Set of twelve chairs (5 armchairs, 7 side chairs)
about 1680 - 1720
Ebony, ebonized hardwood, ivory, ebonized walnut inner-seat frame with cane
The upright form of these chairs, part of a larger set of twelve or more, recalls a design known as the sillon de frailero(friar's chair), among the most common type of chair in Europe in the 1600s. The ornate carving that covers each chair combines European and southern Asian motifs. The winged heads portray cherubs set amid stylized scrolling foliage, while parrots represent beauty in Hindu mythology. The birdlike creature on the top of the backrests depicts Garuda, a creature ridden by the god Vishnu. In contrast to the delicate, lacy carving on the seat and back of the chair, the simple, spiral-turned legs are a typical feature of contemporary northern European furniture.
This combination of Christian and Hindu elements suggests that the chairs were probably made for Dutch colonizers in southern Asia.