Casket of Secrets: Mysterious World of Decorative Boxes

From ancient Egyptian sarcophagi to richly detailed gilded boxes of ornamental jewellery, large-scale coffins have long been fashioned in extravagant styles and adorned with symbolic imagery. Caskets, boxes, and chests of secrets are also often embellished with richly coloured detailing, detailed carvings, or inlays of stones, metals, or precious gems, all designed to enhance the beauty and mystery of the contents stowed away within.

People all around the world have created beautiful caskets to protect their treasured possessions, from storing jewellery and other luxuries to safeguarding the contents of sacred temples and the remains of the deceased. This tradition of painstakingly crafted boxes of secrets is still alive today with master artisans crafting intricate designs for everything from personal trinkets to extraordinarily ornate works of art.


Casket of Secrets: Mysterious World of Decorative Boxes

The History of Decorative Boxes

History reveals that humans have long used decorative boxes to store away all sorts of important things. Archaeologists uncovered a perfectly preserved wooden casket—thought to date sometime between 1050 – 1550 B.C.—used by the ancient Egyptians to store their valuables while traveling. Ancient Greeks used similar boxes to store precious metal vessels, coins and gems.

The Middle Ages were a rich period for the development of caskets and decorative boxes. Between the 13th and 16th centuries, the area of Northern Italy known as Tuscany was famous for its highly decorative caskets. Masters of applied arts created miniature coffins with lids and hinges fashioned from wood and metal as well as boxes in the shape of buildings, often referred to as “hut boxes”. Fast forward to modern times and the skill of the hand-crafted casket can still be seen in everything from luxe boxes filled with trinkets to ornate chests used to protect family heirlooms.

What Makes Decorative Boxes So Special?

There’s something special about decorative boxes, more than just the intrinsic material value. They can also be imbued with cultural, religious, and historical significance. For example, Indian inlaid boxes are decorated with 11th and 12th-century Razavi calligraphy, smaller caskets have figurative paintings paying homage to Hindu gods, and the Chinese with their deeply-rooted traditional style of lacquering create highly collectible boxes often referred to as ‘ju boxes’.

Each culture has its own distinctive style of box making, used for a variety of purposes depending on their traditional customs and beliefs. For instance, the Egyptians used caskets to store the possessions of the deceased and to provide devotional items to their gods, while those in Medieval Europe preferred to use them for storing essential items of the day such as spices and cutlery. Even today, many people use luxurious caskets to store treasured items such as collections of coins, stamps, watches, or jewelry.


Casket of Secrets: Mysterious World of Decorative Boxes

The Art of Creating Decorative Boxes

An important factor in the appreciation of decorative boxes is the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans who create them. Artisans pour tremendous amounts of time and effort into crafting these intricately beautiful vessels so that a box of any size or form can become a fine work-of-art.

The detailing involved often originates from the cultural background of its makers, emphasizing both its aesthetics and practical functionality, as with Indian inlaid boxes that feature miniature, 9th century inkwells carved in the lid. The materials of choice also reveal much about the background of the makers, from lacquer used in Chinese boxes to mocha and olivewood favoured by the Italians.

Modern Decorative Boxes

Today’s decorative boxes are also being crafted in an array of stylish, modern designs. From colour-coordinated geometric shapes to antiqued leather-covered lockable chests, the diversity of decorative boxes today is unparalleled.

Home décor and furnishing stores, as well as designer boutiques, all offer an abundance of decorative boxes in various shapes, sizes, and materials as well as designs ranging from contemporary to vintage and classic. You will also find boxes crafted with a unique blend of contemporary colours and textures to captivating images of far off lands printed onto leather, silk, or wood.

The world of decorative boxes encompasses an almost limitless range of styles and there’s something to match the tastes of virtually anyone. Whether you seek a handcrafted wooden trinket box or a lavish, ornamental chest, there’s no denying the unique beauty of decorative boxes and the fascination and intrigue that surrounds them.


Casket of Secrets: Mysterious World of Decorative Boxes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is a decorative box?

A1. A decorative box is any type of finely-crafted box or chest used to store items, from essential everyday items to treasured religious artifacts and heirlooms. There is a wide variety of styles and materials used to craft decorative boxes, ranging from antique wooden to modern leather and silk options.

Q2. What is the history of decorative boxes?

A2. Decorative boxes have been part of human culture since ancient times, with tools and techniques used to craft them still employed today. The Middle Ages were a rich period for the development of caskets and decorative boxes, and centuries later we can still enjoy the handcrafted boxes that artisans have to offer.

Q3. Where can I find modern decorative boxes?

A3. Home décor and furnishing stores, designer boutiques, and online retailers all provide modern decorative boxes in an array of styles, sizes, and materials. From colour-coordinated geometric shapes to antiqued leather-covered lockable chests, there is something to match the tastes of virtually anyone.

Q4. What makes decorative boxes so special?

A4. Decorative boxes can often be imbued with cultural, religious, and historical significance. They also represent the skill of the artisans who crafted them with painstaking amounts of time and effort put into creating unique, intricate works of art.

Q5. How is the skill of a box artisan reflected in their work?

A5. The materials of choice and the intricate detailing employed in a decorative box often reflect the culture and background of its makers. Artisans use techniques such as inlaying, embossing, and carving to infuse their unique styles and create exquisite pieces of work from materials such as wood, metal, and even gems.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *