On display in this space are different typologies of small furniture, starting with a group of pieces intended for use in estrados (which translates literally as platforms), which were commonly found in homes in countries of Islamic influence for centuries. Predominantly for women, these raised areas were used for diverse tasks such as embroidering, reading or conversing and normally placed in the centre or, preferably, a corner of a room, and carpeted, like the one reproduced here. Estrado furniture was made with the appropriate height for the position of those using it (usually seated on cushions, with crossed legs), and almost always had a drawer in which to keep tools for sewing or books, among other objects.
The two small chest-desks are a perfect demonstration of the technical skill of Portuguese joiners and the excellence of the exotic woods used, the smallest likely to be a ‘test piece’. According to regulations, a craftsperson could only be considered fit to ply their trade once they had provided a test piece in accordance with certain rules and produced many pieces of furniture in miniature. The larger piece is thought to be an estrado piece, which, with the drop leaf open, could be used for writing and reading.
The collection of small beds for the Baby Jesus and two miniature chairs in the same style evoke the pious environment dominant in old Portuguese houses. These pieces are related to the prototypes for beds and chairs used by the wealthiest classes and, in the case of the small beds, their stylistic evolution can be traced from the Baroque, passing through the Rococo, to the Neoclassical.