This beautiful ivory woven silk (Shawl) dating back to the early-19th century was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection (purchased at a Phillips auction, in London, on May 25, 1995), 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 rectangular piece of long Shawl is a typical example of the European take on the eponymous Kashmir shawls.
With high waistline, 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 accessories 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.
It has an ivory silk plain body of (Satin) weave a broad (Phala) on either (Warp) ends and a very thin (hashiya) which is separately woven and handstitched to the main piece and as well as the tasselled fringes on either Warp ends.
Before the introduction of the (Jacquard) loom in the 1820s Shawl makers in Europe were not able to weave shawls (Selvedge) to Selvedge along with its border as one piece. As a result, the body of the Shawl was often stitched to its borders.
The Phala on either end flaunts nine large, elongated floral (Paisley) or (Buta) woven in red, pink, blue, and green wool. The (Jaal) between the paisleys is composed of thick floral vines in a shape that resembles a column. The (Tanjir) and the hashiya are both composed of floral vines arranged in a wave.
The distinct feature of this piece that adds to its elegance is the row of eighteen smaller paisleys of similar floral arrangement as is in the Phala immediately above the Tanjir on both sides. They are also separated from one another with a thick curved vine of floral arrangement.