This ivory long shawl, possibly from Paisley, Scotland dating back to the early 19th century was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. It was first purchased at a Christies’s auction in London on October 27, 1977. Later The Zay Initiative managed to acquire it from Kerry Taylor Auctions in the year 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 long shawl or (kirking_shawl) dating back to the early 19th century – c.1820-1830 – that was possibly manufactured in the town of Paisley, Scotland. This elegant rectangular (shawl) is made of ivory silk in (satin) weave. It has a woven border in vibrant combinations of yellow, (indigo) blue, and red. The running woven border in woollen (weft) threads stands testament to its origin in a (jacquard) loom.
The shawl has a (phala) one on each end with three rows of medium size (buta) / (paisley) each of them bracketed by an arched floral vine. Each row has twenty buta with ten facing left and ten right with the exception of middle row where the two middle buta are not full, but half merged back-to-back with the other giving it the shape of a Roman ancient Greek vase or amphora. The presence of multiple buta on the phala is meticulously balanced by the absence of a significant (jaal). The (tanjir) are composed of red floral motifs intertwined across an indigo blue vine with highlights of yellow. The same design is repeated on a slightly narrower (hashiya).
Although the body of the shawl is plain ivory which is typical of a Kirking_shawl, it has a frame around the hashiya and the tanjir composed of smaller buta. Forty buta are lined on the head of the tanjir divided into two halves, each half mirroring the other. A similar pattern follows the hashiya on the two sides too. These lines of paisleys forming a frame is topped with four tilted (kunjbuta) one at each corner.
It is 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.