x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

36. A wooden cradle, Abu Dhabi, 1940s or early 1950s

To mark the nation's 40th anniversary, we feature 40 historic objects.

"Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock." Baby was hopefully securely hanging from a branch rather than the tree top in this traditional wooden cradle, but the principle is the same.

Locally made, this cradle is too large and cumbersome to form part of Bedouin life and would have been used in settled communities and farms, where a suitable ghaf tree might be growing.

This cradle is at least 60 years old and must have held many newborn babies over the years. The side-panels, simply carved with a series of inverted triangles, are original, but the end pieces are replacements and made from two different kinds of wood, one of which appears to be pine.

At least one of the corner pieces also seems to be newer and it is worth noting that the whole cradle was made without a single nail or sharp object.

Cradles such as this would hang on camel-hair ropes, with the child sleeping on a blanket placed on a web of cords threaded through the base.

Hanging the cradle from a branch both helped the child sleep and kept it safe from snakes and other wild creatures while the mother carried out the housework.