This beautiful coral pink woven silk (shawl) dating back to the early-19th century was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. It was first purchased at an auction in Phillips, London, (part lot 319, 11.03.1997), and later The Zay Initiative managed to acquire it from Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2020.
Dr Joan Coleman began collecting shawls in 1976 and developed her lifelong passion for collecting. She was a regular at the London salesrooms of Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips – three of the most outstanding auction houses of the period in the world – getting to know the dealers and learning in the process. She acquired vast knowledge and dedicated hours carefully cataloguing her ever-growing collection. She intended to loan her collection to different museums and institutions for the benefit of learning and education. Her collection is one of the largest and the finest private shawl collections to have ever graced the world with shawls ranging from Kashmir, Paisley, Edinburgh, Norwich, France, and Iran.
This is a beautiful coral pink (Norwich_long_shawl) woven in silk and wool. Typical of its period and kind, it has a broad (phala) and very narrow (tanjir) and (hashiya) with a plain body. The base of the shawl is in silk of (satin) weave while the elaborately decorated ends are woven in ivory, yellow, and blue wool. It is woven (selvedge) to selvedge with a narrow-woven edging strips without any separate attachments.
The phala is composed of nine large straight (kunjbuta) or (paisley). The (pai) or the base of each paisley is a floral arrangement in yellow, blue, and ivory. The (buta) itself is composed of blue floral composition with a motif resembling a strawberry with a stem at the (shikam). A floral vine in the shape of a column with a sporadic distribution of the strawberry motif forms the (jaal) separating the paisleys from each other.
The narrow tanjir and hashiya are composed of blue, coral, and yellow flowers arranged on a wavy vine. A broad line of nine medium-sized tilted kunjbutah similar to the phala fill up the space immediately above the tanjir on either ends with a similar floral jaal. This is topped with a thin yellow floral arrangement with temple steeple fringes.
The selvedge to selvedge weave and the presence of the narrow edging strip helps us identify it as a c. 1830s creation because prior to the introduction of the (Jacquard) loom in the 1820s, it was impossible for shawl makers in Europe to produce a completely woven piece along with its borders. As a result, the body of the shawl was often stitched to its borders.
It is also important to note that long shawls of similar design distribution were in vogue during this period. With high waistlines, flowing skirts, and (bodice) detailing pintucks and wide puff sleeves of women’s dresses in Great Britain, during this time large shawls like this were the perfect accessory for a balanced silhouette. By the 1850s with the widening of skirts and (crinolines) frames, these shawls became even more popular as it was difficult to wear a jacket or a coat. This resulted in the inclusion of at least one such shawl in the wedding trousseau of every lady from the aristocracy thus giving rise to the term (kirking_shawl) especially in Scotland as they were worn to the kirk or church on the first Sunday after the wedding and then again at christenings of children.