Curiosities at the Califa #1

  • #1 The Druze Dowry Chest

This is the first of a series of posts dedicated to interesting things at the Califa. All objects have a story behind them and never has this been so true as in La Casa del Califa.

All objects have a story behind them

The history of our art is as important as the pieces themselves. What is art? For us it is not just a beautiful executed painting or a crafted tapestry. The 17th. century cross vaulted ceilings in some of our bedrooms are also works of art, as is a simple antique folding chair or Arabian lamps of coloured glass. For me the legacy of the past forms my bond with the art and objects woven into the fabric of the Califa.

Interesting things at the Califa #1 – The Druze Dowry Chest

Entering the Califa from the Plaza you will see a fine example of a 19th. C. Syrian dowry chest also known as a ’Sunduq’. I always considered this piece of furniture one of the key pieces to giving the Califa it’s identity especially as the original Ummayad Caliphate’s origin was Syria eventually extending in to Andalucia. The chest was bought in a soukh in Beirut in 1967 by my father who haggled for hours he told me over cups of tea and sticky dates before coming to a reasonable agreement. In its day it would have been used both for keeping the brides dowry and generally for storing important household items.

The Syrians were the inventors of this type of marquetry and for this reason the best examples in the world are found here. Only the finest walnut was used with incrustations of mother of pearl and silver filigree.