In the summer of 2021, Dr. Reem El Mutwalli came across this shawl through a textile dealer based in New York and purchased it to add to the Zay Collection.
This (jamawar) style (long_shawl) is woven in colourful wool in a Kashmiri flavour and (kani) weave. Although nothing is known about its origin and provenance from its wool quality, dimensions, and weaving techniques, it could be estimated that perhaps it is of European origin – France, Scotland – c. 19th century – possibly between c. 1830-1850.
Assuming its European origin, however, it is void of any typical characteristics in design and design distribution from its contemporaries. Instead of having a plain rectangular ground – a very common design for long shawls of European origin – this (shawl) has a myriad of complex and dense design distribution that has been intricately and skilfully executed resembling a Kashmiri jamawar shawl.
It has a thin border running along its edge on all four sides framing the large central panel. The border is composed of floral patterns and arrangements primarily in (madder) red, with highlights of beige.
The (warp) ends have an extra layer of the border that is composed of colourful rectangular patches with stylized arches that encase several floral motifs or bouquets. These patches are made of black, (turquoise)/(pheroza), scarlet red, ivory and olive green with a beige patch interjecting two colours.
The body of the shawl or the (matan) can be roughly divided into two parts. The central part is composed of four large stylised (paisley)/(buta) set in pairs. In each pair, the paisleys elegantly curl around each other. The arrangement of each pair is a mirrored reflection of the other thus creating an illusion of a butterfly. The other part is composed of two motifs placed side by side – a bouquet and a stylised (palmette) – repeated several times along the sides framing the central part. The entire body is composed of (coral) pink, madder, (crimson) red, turquoise, black and beige. A series of threads in the corresponding colour of the patches hang loose forming a fringe enhancing the shawl’s elegance.
While typical Kashmiri jamawar shawls were larger and composed of separately woven patches skilfully attached to one another by means of hand stitches to create a single shawl, this is a (selvedge) to selvedge woven piece. This piece is quite similar in its style of execution to another piece in the collection of the Zay Initiative – (ZI2020.500774 EUROPE).
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