© Sharjah Museums Authority


Name of Object:

Captain's Pearl Chest containing his most precious possessions, including folding pearl gauges with 44 grades, knife for opening oysters, weight set and hand compass

Name in original language:

Bishtakha

Location:

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (Sharjah)

Holding Museum:

Sharjah Maritime Museum / Sharjah Museums Department

Date:

Hegira late 13th – early 14th century / AD late 19th – early 20th century

Type of object:

Wooden work box with tools

Artists:

Unknown

Museum Inventory Number:

SM2007-265; SM2007-186; SM2007-200; SM2007-226; SM1999-88

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Teak wood, iron, copper alloy, textile

Dimensions:

Length 532 mm, depth 301 mm, height 193 mm

Provenance:

Sharjah Emirate

Description:

This pearl merchant's chest, known in the region as bishtakha, was an indispensable item of a pearl merchant's profession, as it contained not only all his equipment, but also his valuable bags of pearls. Made of hardwood and often elaborately decorated, these chests could come in different sizes and were designed to hold pearling scales with their agate weights, scoops, graded sieves, small discrete boxes for cash - often hidden in secret compartments - bags of pearls and the so-called chao book, used to calculate - by means of detailed tables - the value of specific pearls on the basis of their weight.

Citation of this web page:

Ulrike al-Khamis "Captain's Pearl Chest containing his most precious possessions, including folding pearl gauges with 44 grades, knife for opening oysters, weight set and hand compass" in Sharing History , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=sh_objects;AWE;ua;37;en&id=weights_and_measures

Prepared by: Ulrike Al-Khamis

MWNF Working Number: UA 038