This elegant Kashmiri silk sash or girdle dates back to the late- 19th century and was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. It was first purchased at an auction in Christie’s, London, and 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 salerooms 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.
This is a rectangular piece of silk handwoven fabric with a black base and a polychrome woven paisley and floral motif border running along all the sides and four paisley motifs diagonally mirroring each other at the corners. These motifs are hand embroidered in silk (resham) threads. One of the warp ends of the fabric has a broader border and decorative fringes.
The presence of the decorative fringes and the broader border on one end clearly indicates that the fabric was used as a girdle or cummerbund (patka). The inner layer (tanjir) of the border on the warp end with fringes, has a series of large paisley motifs in a set of two facing one another.
This kind of fabric girdle was most commonly used by men and occasionally by women. Sashes like these would be wrapped two or three times around the wearer’s waist and tied with either both their ends hanging or just one end hanging down the front of the wearer while the other end was tucked in. They were usually worn over long robes and were used to display the wearer’s wealth by tucking personal items like daggers, pencases, and other precious objects into the fabric. The concept of the (patka) was exported to Europe through British military in colonial India which was later modified and adapted as a part of tuxedo sets and was named (cummerbund).
- Kerry Taylor Auctions – https://www.kerrytaylorauctions.com
- Christie’s – https://www.christies.com
- Sotheby’s – https://www.sothebys.com/en/
- Phillips – https://www.phillips.com