This silk (moon_shawl) dating back to the early 19th century was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. 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.
It is a square shawl of olive-green silk base with a large central floral medallion, four half circles one on each side, and four small quadrants in the corners. Often identified or categorised as moon_shawl this piece was possibly woven on a (draw_loom) at Norwich sometime between c. 1820-30.
The body of the shawl is embellished with a vined trellis design in brown wool that gives the entire shawl a (damask) effect. A scarlet red flower is placed in the middle of each trellis while an ivory flower is placed at the nodes. The centre of the shawl is embellished with several tiers of floral arrangements in circular forms primarily in coral pink, (indigo) blue, and beige with (turquoise)/(pheroza) highlights. A similar arrangement in the form of a half circle is repeated on the four sides near the borders. The corners are embellished with similar designs in the form of small quadrants.
The borders – a separately woven piece sewn to the shawl by means of machine stitches – are woven on a beige base with branches in black arranged in zigzag patterns and are punctuated with stylized carnations and flame-like motifs.
Also called a (chandar) Kashmiri moon_shawl was originally (jamawar) luxurious hand-woven shawl that originated in the Kashmir Valley of the Indian subcontinent in the last quarter of the 17th century. Inspired by the 16th-century carpets from Ottoman Egypt these shawls were often characterized by a spacious square field with a circular full moon-like medallion pattern in the centre and further quarter medallions or quadrants in each corner, giving them their distinctive name. These moon shawls were highly valued for their beauty and craftsmanship and were considered an important cultural symbol of Kashmiri heritage. They have been prized luxury items for centuries especially under the patronage of the Mughal Empire eventually gaining popularity in Europe and subsequently being produced according to Western stylistic and aesthetical demands specially catering to the taste of the wealthy English and French elites.
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