A set of four objects with three in possession of the Zay Initiative along with (ZI2020.500783 ASIA, ZI2020.500784 ASIA, ZI2020.500786 ASIA).
This (pashmina) (long_shawl) dating back to c. mid-19th century Kashmir was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. It was first purchased at Christie’s London in July 1977. 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.
Hand woven in pashmina/(cashmere) with a blend of silk, this ivory long_shawl is from the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent, c. mid 19th century. With a (selvedge) to selvedge weave this piece is primarily woven in ivory and substantial use of red, pink, (turquoise) blue/(pheroza), black and orange.
Unlike most of its contemporaries, this long_shawl lacks a broad (phala). Instead, it has a very thin border running along its four edges. The (warp) end borders are slightly thicker than the (weft) ones. While the former flaunts a repeat of a spade motif beneath floral arches, the latter has a green hemmed edge. The (hashiya) on the weft end is composed of a dense and intricate floral (jaal) in pink, pheroza, black, orange, and red that continues above the phala too, thus framing the body of the shawl.
The central body or (matan) is plain except for four large tilted (kunjbuta) resting on a scrolling heart shaped base or (pai). These (paisley) sprout from an arrowhead beneath it and two of them forms a trident above it while the other two form a smaller paisley. It trident itself is composed of two tiny paisleys arranged back-to-back with just a thin line separating them. A possible signature in three characters of the weaver or the embroiderer in an illegible and unidentified script – perhaps Arabic – adorns one of the warp ends. This is executed in silk (floss)/(resham) thread embroidery. The warp ends hang loose in fringes enhancing its daintiness. The distinct sheen of the shawl raises the possibility of pashmina being woven with a silk blend.
Stylistically, this shawl is very similar to the present day woollen square shawls from the Indian subcontinent, commonly used during the winter seasons traditionally by the rich merchants and wealthy men of the Bedouin community men in the Gulf Arab countries. They are often decorated at the corners with the paisley motif and are colloquially called (kazu)/(kazuwah)or (shal_tarmah) especially in Iraq making the region of its origin, the material and the design synonymous with one another.