Not much is known about this object, as it was found packed away and stored in an old cedar chest, where it sat for many years, protected from light before being sold to Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli by a dealer from the United States in 2018 and was added to The Zay Collection.
This is a narrow rectangular piece of woollen fabric – (cashmere) most probably of the (pashmina) variety – in (kani) weave. With both elaborate yet intricate design, its wool variety, and its weave this exquisite piece indicates its origin to be possibly Kashmir.
Handwoven on a loom selvedge to selvedge this piece has no extra attachments.
The item is woven in two most dominant colours – (turquoise) blue or (pheroza) which forms the base and the plain centre and (madder) red for the elaborate and beautiful design with highlights of moss green and pheroza.
The (warp) ends are decorated with alternating blue and green scalloped arches punctuated with a red arch in between forming the border. The blue and green arches are filled with similar elements – floral arrangements and a (paisley) – in a mirroring orientation, while the red arches are filled with a floral (palmette) design. It is concluded with a row of polychromatic fringes.
There is no specific (tanjir) to distinguish the broader than usual (phala) from the central body of the piece. Thus, the phala in a crisscross and overlapping arrangements of paisleys and floral vines mostly in red with sporadic sprinkles of turquoise highlights extends and merges itself with the central elements on both sides.
The centre is primarily plain except a frame of floral vines that seem to emerge from the borders and phala on either side. The vines on the warp ends are long and curvy with intricate foliage, while the weft ends have curved vines of foliage with a central bouquet flanked by two paisleys.
Although not much is known about the origin and provenance of this piece it could be safely concluded from the absence of clear (selvedge) that this item was perhaps a part of mass production of several items of a similar kind made on the same loom. The long narrow size indicates that it was woven as an accessory – a (cummerbund) or girdle more commonly known as a (patka) in the subcontinent – and not a full shawl. This serves as another indication of its place of origin as girdles of this kind were used only around the subcontinent and had no use of being woven in the looms of Europe.
Apart from a very tiny hole in the blue central section, and a small one-inch tear at one end, this shawl is in fairly good condition.