Dablo (container), Gujarat, 20th century

dablo is a form of storage container used by the Kathi community of southern Gujarat. Dabla (plural) come in all sizes and could be used to store food, jewellery or money. For safety, smaller containers could be buried in the ground. Dabla, like this one, were used as a hope chest to store a bride-to-be’s possessions as she moved to her new home. To keep it safe, these larger dabla could be dropped down a well and fished out later, using the brass rings. The body of this dablo was made by hammering and folding brass sheets – look closely and you can see the hammer marks.

Dabla are found in the living rooms of the Kathi community, where they are displayed alongside prints of the deities, beadwork, utensils and photographs of the ancestors. The beadwork pieces would be made by the women of the house, demonstrating their craft skills. The utensils would show the family were always ready to host guests.

This new exhibition space celebrates the traditional everyday furniture of Gujarat. It draws on years of fieldwork as part of the Vernacular Furniture of North-West India project. This research, which is the first of its kind, is a collaboration between SADACC and DICRC, CEPT University Ahmedabad.

Sahaj: Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat is out now and available for purchase on the museum website.