This 19th-century antique silk paisley printed shawl with colourful designs was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli from a dealer (t_qures) in the UK and was subsequently added to The Zay Collection.
This colourful rectangular (paisley) (shawl) from the mid to late 19th century is a Victorian example of a printed piece.
With a primary base of ivory, this is embellished in a variety of different colours. It has a double framed border with fringes dangling from one (warp) end. Both frames have an alternative arrangement of temple steeples and scallops. The space between the two frames is occupied by a single (buta) or paisley alternating with two smaller buta or paisleys mirroring each other with a scallop in the background thus giving an illusion of two peacocks standing back-to-back with their trains spread. The fringes at the hem are separately attached and are made of silk threads.
The body of the shawl is filled with buta or paisleys of two different sizes arranged in an alternative sequence. The colours used in this shawl are mostly shades of red, blue, and green which makes this shawl look rich and vibrant. There is a silk fabric patch darning on the underside at one of the warp ends.
There is a very minor wear of about 2 cm, a few very minute holes not noticeable at a quick glance, and three very small slightly pale faded portions.
As women’s fashion changed from long flowing skirts that paired well with shawls to (bustled) (crinolines) from the 1860s – the 70s and the subsequent rise of capes and jackets, the shawl industry in Europe, as well as the subcontinent, suffered a major setback. This change in fashion coupled with the Franco-Prussian War that disrupted trade between Europe and India made the original pieces from Kashmir far more expensive resulting in the loss of patronage of the aristocracy. With high fashion losing interest, even the demand for the machine – (jacquard) loom–woven fabric for the mass market suffered a loss. To keep themselves afloat, weavers thus started producing machine-woven printed fabrics at an affordable rate as a last-ditch effort to keep themselves significant.
This piece is a blazing example of the trying times of the shawl industry in Europe. While the fascination for these exotic pieces still burned bright within society, their lack of affordability led to the easy and affordable substitution and this piece speaks of it in volumes.