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96/163/1 Shawl, turnover, embroidered, cashmere / silk, maker unknown, [India / Kashmir], 1820-1840. Click to enlarge.

Embroidered shawl

Made
Shawl, turnover, embroidered, cashmere / silk, maker unknown, [India / Kashmir], 1820-1840

A square shawl woven in herringbone twill from fine single ply, natural cream cashmere. The shawl has been pieced along one side to form the square, has a deep hand-embroidered border in black silk couching, and is edged all around with a knotted fringe of black silk.

The two-ply black silk of the embroidery has been very tightly twisted so that it naturally forms small coils and loops which are …

Summary

Object No.

96/163/1

Object Statement

Shawl, turnover, embroidered, cashmere / silk, maker unknown, [India / Kashmir], 1820-1840

Physical Description

Shawl, turnover, embroidered, cashmere / silk, maker unknown, [India / Kashmir], 1820-1840

A square shawl woven in herringbone twill from fine single ply, natural cream cashmere. The shawl has been pieced along one side to form the square, has a deep hand-embroidered border in black silk couching, and is edged all around with a knotted fringe of black silk.

The two-ply black silk of the embroidery has been very tightly twisted so that it naturally forms small coils and loops which are stitched down with fine black thread. The border has been embroidered on the reverse around one corner and most of the adjacent two sides, so that when the shawl is folded diagonally for wearing, it shows two embroidered borders on the right side, one above the other. In the corner of the upper layer is a large symmetrical teardrop motif.

Marks

No marks.

Dimensions

Width

1735 mm

Production

Made

Made

Notes

The design is Indian in style, with an arched design based on Mughal or Rajput architecture along the edge, and with a densely packed border of botehs, teardrop forms and flowers just above. This probably suggests an Indian origin for the shawl, although a large number of shawls were made in Europe during the 19th century in imitation of the Indian originals.

It is also known that Indian-style shawls were produced in Russia, where the former owner of this shawl lived and worked. The symmetrical design of the corner motif is reminiscent of eastern European embroidery, while the 'braided' quality of the embroidery is similar to the elaborate braiding used to decorate men's clothes in eastern Europe.

The material of the shawl is cashmere and the weave structure herringbone twill, both of which suggest an Indian or Kashmiri origin for the shawl. However, weave structure was easy to imitate, and while Kashmir shawls were twill woven, the twill was not usually of herringbone type. The embroidery technique used (couching down the coils that form naturally when the black silk thread is tightly twisted) is unusual, with no link to a particular country of origin found. Plain couching however (without the twist) is widely used throughout Europe and Asia.

The shawl's turnover style, the simplicity of the design, its provenance and condition, would suggest a date of 1820 to 1840.

History

Used

Owned

Notes

Shawls from India and Kashmir, and shawls made in Europe in imitation of these, were worn as an indispensible fashion accessory to women's dress for nearly a hundred years from late 18th to late 19th century. These shawls varied in style and in size and shape, the square form being popular from early to late 19th century.

The shawl belonged to Georgine Hester Elfreda Shaw, who left it to her friend Gwenda Parsons, the donor, when she died in April 1995. The shawl was given to Georgine Shaw by her great aunt, who had worked as a governess for a Russian aristocratic family, during which time she is said to have had a Cossak lover.

Source

Credit Line

Gift in memory of Georgine Hester Elfreda Shaw

Acquisition Date

2 May 1996

Cite this Object

Harvard

Embroidered shawl 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 June 2022, <https://ma.as/149561>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/149561 |title=Embroidered shawl |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 June 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.