This rectangular sandalwood box is in the shape of a cottage veneered with ivory and engraved with black lac. The four sides of the work box are decorated with a door, latticed windows, trees, flowers and, more uncommonly, human figures. The pitched roof has an incised decoration, floral and figural border, and a bricked chimney on top. The hinged lid opens up to reveal eight compartments with ivory edging to the top of each panel. The front of the box has a keyhole. Inside the interior on the right side of the box there is a metal pin which secures a secret compartment.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, holds an example of a Vizagapatam cottage workbox quite similar in style and size to ours (Accession Number W.20:1 to 5-1951, and illustrated in Jaffer, p. 206, fig. 50). The Victoria and Albert Museum workbox, however, is depicted with red lac engraving on the chimney whilst our box is engraved throughout with black lac only.
Literature: Jaffer, A. Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A catalogue of the collections in The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Peabody Essex Museum, Timeless Books, New Delhi, 2001.