This (Paisley) scarf/wrap (shawl) dating back to the first half of the 19th century 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 fine ivory cashmere woven shawl dating back to the early half of the 19th century. It is an almost square piece of fabric with a densely embellished woven border. The motifs are floral and paisley and the colour is predominantly blue with periodic sprinkles of red. The scarf has decorative fringes at the warp ends of the original base material.
This shawl was manufactured in Paisley, Scotland in the 1840s and is a typical example of the Oriental influence in English society. Made of wool woven in a jacquard loom and decorated with stylised paisley patterns in (indigo) and red, gives it is a remarkable blend of both European and Oriental aesthetics. The paisley motifs used are Indo-Persian, however, its form is a European adaptation where the shape does not curve inside as in its oriental counterparts.
Although manufactured in the 1840s, this scarf has a lingering effect of the 1820s style prevalent in the subcontinent where the long shawls had not only a border pattern that is full of floral design, but also a gallery that weaves around the entire circumference of the central white field. Weavers used more indigo and other shades of blue during this time and introduced geometric patterns into the paisley, adding more complex shapes.
This is a large square shawl, perhaps one of the earlier examples of its kind. Although the beginning of the 19th century saw the prevalence of long shawls, but the middle of the century wider skirts in European fashion encouraged larger square shawls with borders and grouped designs which encroached into the centres. In fact, long shawls were often cut down and made into square shawls and turnovers with expensive borders and had new centres to replace old worn ones. Skillful needlework and stitching arranged borders for one corner to be folded diagonally to fit into the opposite side, thus making a V-shape on the back of the wearer.