Beston Barnett Design

fine custom furniture and woodworking

Solomon’s Cabinets: Altajwal

44″w, 19″h, 17″d, maple, holly, anigre

“Altajwal” (“The wanderings” in Arabic) is part of a series of cabinets which use the abstract vocabulary of Islamic geometry to illustrate legends of the biblical King Solomon. In the Talmudic tradition, Solomon is tricked out of his homeland by the Prince of Demons, and forced to wander lost in the desert for a number of years. I’ve taken a traditional biomorphic Mamluk pattern often found in stonework and carved much of it away to suggest ruins submerged in sand dunes.

The story goes that the demon-prince, Ashmedai, takes Solomon’s magic ring and throws it miles away into the Mediterranean. After years of wandering as a beggar, Solomon is eating a fish when he bites down to find his own ring in its stomach. Like many such legends, the story also appears in Herodotus, though its origin may be in some third earlier source. Here I’ve used two brass pulls on carved drawers hidden within the cabinet: one as the eye of the fish, the other as the ring in its belly. I wanted to carve a fish that might have been eaten in the ancient Middle East, but the ecosystem of the Mediterranean has changed drastically since the construction of the Suez Canal. In my research I found the Argyrosomus regius (“Royal drum fish” in Latin), similar to a bass, which is also known by the common name “jewfish,” and used it as my model.

With two sliding doors and two concealed drawers, the cabinet can be mounted on a stand or hung on a wall with a French clete (as pictured).


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