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March 30, 2010

Object Lesson

Ivory palanquin at the Winter Antiques Show

WHAT IS IT? An 18th-century ivory palanquin used as a portable throne in Mughal India.

WHERE IS IT? At Marc J. Matz, a private dealer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who will be bringing it to New York for the Winter Antiques Show, January 16 to 25.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT Before horse-drawn carriages, palanquins were India's most popular form of royal transportation; six men would bear the nobleman on their shoulders. This palanquin (measuring 18" x 59" x 34") is entirely original except for the cushion and bolsters (not pictured), which have been upholstered in orange and gold Indian silk. "This is only one of a few that are known to exist in the world from this particular workshop," says Matz. It's also one of the earliest examples of the incised-ivory technique that became very popular in India in the 19th century.

CONTEMPORARY CACHET "This was most recently a centerpiece of a modern loft," Matz says. "The owners displayed it the way you would an exquisite rug."

ASKING PRICE $125,000. Marc J. Matz, 617-460-6200; www.marcmatz.com. The Winter Antiques Show at the Seventh Regiment Armory, Park Avenue and 67th Street, New York; 718-292-7392; www.winterantiquesshow.com.