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17th Century Coffer

The Maltese senduq, or coffer, was one of the earliest pieces of furniture in the home, as well as one of the most important.  It was probably introduced into Malta when it was under Arab rule.  Early coffers were simple in design, and had little by way of ornamentation.  The featured coffer is probably of Sicilian origin. 
17th century coffers varied in design, some were plain, or had panelled fronts and sides.  Some coffers were made out of chestnut or red deal, and followed the Sicilian and Spanish styles.  The provincial coffer was made out of red or white deal wood, and was fitted with hand made locks for a large muftieh, or large key.  Other types of coffers had thickly moulded patterns at the bottom, carved scaled motifs, iron escutcheons and high bun feet.  The senduq was usually placed in halls or corridors, although originally it was associated with the bedroom and everyday life as it was convenient for storing clothes and linen.  There was usually a small compartment inside where precious belongings such as jewellery or silver flatware could be kept, and the master of the house often slept on top of it to ensure their safety.  However, the weight and heat of the body would cause the lid to warp and stain.
Chests of drawers took over from the senduq in the middle of the 17th century.


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