Camel-bone Dowry Chest

Essaouira, Morocco

20th Century

Cedarwood with camel-bone inlay

The design of the handcut camel-bone chest dates back centuries in Morocco. It is often a combination of wood and camel-bone, lined with leather and decorated with brass and copper. This chest is highly decorated with a floral theme and polished wood. Traditionally, this would be used as a dowry chest, filled with jewelry and fine fabrics and presented from man to his future bride. Dowry chests are custom to wedding traditions around the world. In Morocco, it dates back to 900 CE and is still in use today in the 21st Century. It is expected that women not only bring money into the marriage but also jewellery, linen and clothing. A smaller box, such as this one, may have been used for makeup or jewellery.

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