Arabic Brass Folding Tables


Here’s some Bedouin furniture and family history for y’all.

To the left, a folding brass smoking table bought by my granddad Ingemar in Punjab, India, shortly before the Great Depression. Ingemar worked as a safety match salesman for Swedish industrialist Ivar Krüger, whom the Depression would make very depressed indeed. My granddad told lots of stories of his years in India, the greatest adventure of his life. Returning to Sweden, he had wanted to become a philologist, but, lacking money, he instead went to work in his brother’s accountancy firm. The coolest thing about his career was being accountant to Björn and Benny of ABBA. Funnily enough, among Ingemar’s clients was also the owner of one of Sweden’s first pizza restaurants, Engelbrekt in Högdalen. Many years later, in the early 90s, it was run by a Chinese couple whose youngest and prettiest daughter would one day marry a grandson of Ingemar’s: me.


To the right, a folding brass smoking table that I bought in Agadir, Morocco, in the mid-1990s. Ingemar’s table is higher-end than mine: engraved and inlaid with enamel instead of just punch-decorated, and with a more intricate floral shape. But I like them both! Perfect to put your hookah on once you’ve gotten the tent erected after moving your livestock and wives and kids from one wadi to another.


A cool thing about these tables is that they represent two different directions that Arabic culture expanded in after the formulation of Islam. Ingmar’s table is from East of Arabia. It would have supported a lot of small coffee cups. Mine is from West of it, an area where the drink of choice is instead tea with fresh mint leaves. They go well together.


[More blog entries about , , ; , , .]


  1. #1 Larry Ayers
    October 13, 2008

    What a cool story, Martin! I wish I had such tales to tell, but I make do!

  2. #2 Another Primate
    October 13, 2008

    Refreshing!!!! Not many of the blogs I read make me smile.. I will be back!

  3. #3 Ian
    October 14, 2008

    Telling stories of cavorting with hookahs. You oughta be ashamed….

  4. #4 Claes
    October 14, 2008

    Smoking brass?

  5. #5 Martin R
    October 14, 2008

    It is a little-known fact that The Pretenders’ hit “Brass in Pocket” tells the story of a metal detectorist whose pockets are full of copper-alloy small finds.

  6. #6 Lars L
    October 15, 2008

    Pretending having metal rods in the pocket!?

  7. #7 Martin R
    October 15, 2008

    Is that a C-scope in your pocket, Lars, or are you just happy to se me?

  8. #8 Claes
    October 16, 2008

    AND what do you mean by that Lars L? (very internal joke, sorry)

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.