The Nawàb’s Musical Bed

Clip_246In 1882 Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi IV, Nawàb of Bahawalpur, anonymously commissioned a bed in rosewood covered with about a third of a ton of chased and engraved sterling silver from La Maison Christofle in Paris. The bedposts were four life-size automatons, nude (though bewigged) female figures representing European types, powered by four crank-wound spring mechanisms in their pedestals.

Wires ran from these springs to a music box under the bed. Downward pressure on the center of the mattress activated the music box and caused the bedpost-women to begin shifting their eyes and fanning and whisking the bed’s occupant(s) in time to the music (an unidentified excerpt from Gounod’s Faust).

Clip_247The performance lasted 30 minutes.

A watercolor and several photos taken in 1882 for the Christofle firm are the only evidence of the bed, whose present whereabouts are unknown.

This according to “Asleep with painted ladies” by Carl A. Skoggard (Nest X [2000] pp. 100-105).

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