This colourful (shawl) dating back to the mid-19th century was originally part of a trio along with (ZI2020.500778 EUROPE) and (ZI2020.500780 EUROPE) at the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. It was first purchased at an auction at Phillip’s in June 1999. 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 rectangular shawl is woven in an ivory base and embellished with vibrantly colourful wool. Dating back to c.1850-60 this piece is a unique example of its time because although it is rectangular, there is not much difference between the length and width making it look almost square. It is neither a square shawl nor a full-length rectangular shawl. In fact, the asymmetric design distribution with all four borders of four different widths further enhances its singularity.
The body of the shawl comprises of a plain ivory field that is embellished with hand-embroidered pink and (crimson) red flowers placed alternately and separated by a green foliate motif. This entire arrangement sits on a thin central vine that runs around the four sides in yellow. A tilted stylized (paisley)/(kunjbuta) with a blue (shikam) placed on a base of mostly crimson and pink flowers and green foliage adorns one corner of the white field. A faux signature in Arabic script or perhaps an imitation of it in ivory (resham)/ silk (floss) thread is placed subtly next to the kunjbuta.
The piece has two sets of borders both stitched to one another and subsequently to the ivory piece on the machine. The inner border runs in four different sizes on four sides and comprises of intricately woven paisleys and other floral motifs in (vermillion) red, scarlet, yellow (ochre), black and ivory. The outer border also woven in wool comprises (turquoise)/(pheroza), vermillion, moss and bottle green, ochre, pink, and black panels with floral bouquets under stylized arches. This gives way to tasselled fringes created by the threads of the same fabric in their corresponding colours hanging loose.
It is important to note that it is a (turnover_shawl) as the embellishment at one corner is done on the underside so that it will be exhibited when folded and draped across the shoulders it.