Vintage Thai Howdah Chair

PRESENTING an early to mid 20th Century, Vintage Thai Howdah Chair from circa 1930-35.

STUNNING carving. Made of teak and in near mint condition.

These types of chairs are known as ‘Howdah’ chairs or sometimes ‘Elephant chairs’ …. this one is most definitely a ‘Howdah’ chair but unlike many of these types of chairs, the leg supports are not carved in the shape of elephants.

The back splat has a highly carved central section depicting a Buddah in prayer, surrounded by floral motifs. There are 4 rear pillars with each one nicely carved and ending in an acorn style finial.

The seat section is beautifully upholstered in a orange velvet cushion with matching elbow cushions. The armchair sides are curved and the seat base is again, highly carved in floral motifs.

The legs are likewise highly carved and are in a ‘V’ shape on front and connected with cross supports.

The elephant is a sacred animal in Thailand, hence the religious connotations and connection to Buddah.

howdah, or houdah (Hindi: हौदा haudāBengali: হাওদা haoda), derived from the Arabic هودج (hawdaj), that means “bed carried by a camel”, also known as hathi howdah (हाथी हौदा), is a carriage which is positioned on the back of an elephant, or occasionally some other animal such as a camel, used most often in the past to carry wealthy people or for use in hunting or warfare. It was also a symbol of wealth for the owner and as a result was decorated with expensive gemstones.

Most notable are the Golden Howdah, the one used in display at the Napier Museum at Thiruvananthapuram which was used by the Maharaja of Travancore and the one used traditionally during the Elephant Procession of the famous Mysore Dasara. The Mehrangarh Fort Museum in JodhpurRajasthan has a gallery of royal howdahs.

In the present time, howdahs are used mainly for tourist or commercial purposes in South East Asia and are the subject of controversy as animal rights groups and organizations, such as Millennium Elephant Foundation, openly criticize the use of the howdah, citing information that howdahs can cause permanent damage to an elephant’s spine, lungs, and other organs and can significantly shorten the animal’s life.


Vintage Thai Howdah Chair.

Provenance: From a Private Dallas Collection. The owner’s mother was an art dealer in Manhattan in the 70’s and 80’s and spent some time in Thailand after WW2.

Condition: Near Mint.

Dimensions: 38″ Tall, 32.5″ Wide and 25.2″ Deep.

Seat Height: 20.2″ Tall and 23″ Deep

PRICE Now: $2,400.

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