the Palanquin assemblage

In Assemblages by Arif

The Palanquin assemblage consist of a miniature 18th century chair sitting on tope of a toy rhinoseros; both have been lacquered blue with gliding on the chair. A wonderful rock crystal point sits on the chair. The crystal has a small transparent face fused to it.

Jewelry for your table top!

A European being carried in a palanquin, 19th century

Thank you Wikipedia for the following:

palanquin is a covered litter, usually for one passenger. It is carried by an even number of bearers (between two and eight, but most commonly four) on their shoulders, by means of a pole projecting fore and aft.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit palyanka, meaning bed or couch. The Malay and Javanese form is palangki, in Hindi and Bengali, palki. The Portuguese apparently added a nasal termination to these to make palanquim. English adopted it from Portuguese as “palanquin”.

Palanquins vary in size and grandeur. The smallest and simplest, a cot or frame suspended by the four corners from a bamboo pole and borne by two bearers, is called a doli. Larger palanquins are rectangular wooden boxes eight feet long, four feet wide, and four feet high, with openings on either side screened by curtains or shutters. Interiors are furnished with bedding and pillows. Ornamentation reflects the social status of the traveller. The most ornate palanquins have lacquer paintwork and cast bronze finials at the ends of the poles. Designs include foliage, animals, and geometric patterns.

 Ibn Batutta describes them as being “carried by eight men in two lots of four, who rest and carry in turn. In the town there are always a number of these men standing in the bazaars and at the sultan’s gate and at the gates of other persons for hire.” Those for “women are covered with silk curtains.”

Palanquins are mentioned in literature as early as the Ramayana (c. 250 BC). Indian women of rank always travelled by palanquin.[3] The conveyance proved popular with European residents in India, and was used extensively by them. Pietro Della Valle, a 17th-century Italian traveller, wrote:

Going in Palanchino in the Territories of the Portugals in India is prohibited to men, because indeed ’tis a thing too effeminate, nevertheless, as the Portugals are very little observers of their own Laws, they began at first to be tolerated upon occasion of the Rain, and for favours, or presents, and afterwards became so common that they are us’d almost by everybody throughout the whole year.

Being transported by palanquin was pleasant. Owning one and keeping the staff to power it was a luxury affordable even to low-paid clerks of the East India Company. Concerned that this indulgence led to neglect of business in favor of “rambling”, in 1758 the Court of Directors of the company prohibited its junior clerks from purchasing and maintaining palanquins. Also in the time of the British in India, dolis served as military ambulances, used to carry the wounded from the battlefield.

In the early 19th century, the most prevalent mode of long distance transport for the affluent was by palanquin.The post office could arrange, with a few days notice, relays of bearers to convey a traveller’s palanquin between Stages or stations. The distance between these in the government’s day (Hindi: “mail”) system averaged about 10 miles (16 km), and could be covered in three hours. A relay’s usual complement consisted of two torch-bearers, two luggage-porters, and eight palanquin-bearers who worked in gangs of four, although all eight might pitch in at steep sections. A passenger could travel straight through or break their journey at day bungalows located at certain stations.

Until the mid-19th century, palanquins remained popular for those who could afford them, but they fell out of favor for long journeys as steamers, railways, and roads suitable for wheeled transport were developed. By the beginning of the 20th century they were nearly “obsolete among the better class of Europeans”. Rickshaws, introduced in the 1930s, supplanted them for trips around town.

Modern use of the palanquin is limited to ceremonial occasions. A doli carries the bride in a traditional wedding, and they may be used to carry religious images in Hindu processions.

A miniature sedan chair by Faberge. Sort of a Russian palanquin.