A chest of drawers is full of stories, keepsakes and memories

Certain objects are for keeps. They never lose their appeal and are not dictated by changing trends. And among household furniture it is the good old dignified chest of drawers- the family treasure. The piece stands out by its sheer elegance and grace. It holds a timeless appeal. Not just for its utility but also for its personal and emotional connection the chest of drawers is always a most desirable and sought after object. Handed down from one generation to another, chest of drawers in many homes represents a previous bygone era. It has stories to tell.

Presna Anish’s chest of drawers is a vintage piece. A family heirloom, she lights the lamp to the deity placed on it everyday. , “I am proud of owning this family heirloom. It is from my mother’s ancestral home. Even those days it was said to be an antique. This chest has a unique feature- a foldable mini ledge at the bottom of its side to hold up a rifle, as hunting was a favourite sport of my ancestors.”

Considered antiquity which appreciates in value over time, chest of drawers thus even today are chipped and carved in ancient, archetypal style. A.J. Xavier, a furniture designer and dealer says, “a chest of drawers is still a favourite item and their orders never cease. Almost all my clients wish to retain the old world style of the classic, ornate chests with its carvings, mouldings, patterns, brass handles etc to give it an archaic appearance of times past. Thus it’s hard to tell a contemporary chest from an antique. For lasting beauty and sheen it is best to make chests in natural woods like mahogany, teak, rosewood etc.

The urge to possess a chest of drawers thus is as strong as ever. Dr.Meena Jayram who is looking out for a chest says, “I was smitten by chest of drawers ever since I saw an original ancient chest in my relative’s home that had a small tilting mirror on top with two tiny drawers where kaajal, kumkum etc were stored. At the moment I have a miniature chest on which I have placed Lord Nataraja. The different drawers of the chest are ideal for storing things such as clothing, cutlery, documents or a medley of other things.”

A distinguished object, the chest thus forms an ideal place for memories and nostalgia. Beautifully framed family pictures of loved ones in different stages of life – baby photos, graduation pictures, marriage ceremonies and other family events are often exhibited on them. Trinkets and souvenirs from distant travel spots, birthday and greeting cards are also fondly showcased on a chest.

John Korula, antique connoisseur of Indian Industries handicrafts store, Princess Street, Fort Cochin says, “Chest of drawers has a special characteristic. I consider the two chests of drawers in my home- an Indian one with mirror and drawer- a wedding gift to my parents, and a Jewish chest, a gift , as a fortune. I realised their ageless charm and appreciating value only when I grew up for I had taken them for granted as other bits of furniture. While Indian chests have temple designs on them the Victorian chests are inlaid and embellished with minute woodwork and Chinese chests have a more oriental design that can be observed by the discerning eye.”

The craftsmanship, the emotional link and its connection with bygone days gives the chest of drawers an aura of romance and mystery and thus confers it with royalty.

It is the owner’s pride.

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