Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent

There are three forms of lace associated with the northeastern Indian city of Lucknow. The first is a metal form that is really a woven braid, rather than a form of handmade lace using bobbins, hooks or needles, although it is called by some authors, writing in English, ‘Lucknow lace’.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the northeastern Indian city of Lucknow was well-known for the production of a wide range of metal threads. 

The collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York includes a man's coat, a choga, which probably dates to the first half of the nineteenth century and may derive from Kashmir in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. It is 133 cm long and 75 cm wide at the bottom. It is made of wool and is decorated with metal thread embroidery and applied braids.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a waistcoat measuring 76.2 x 38.1 cm. It was made in the mid-eighteenth century in India, perhaps for the European market, and consists of a cotton ground material with woollen thread embroidery.

Mojaris (also known as mozaris) are a form of traditional footwear from the Indian subcontinent. They are mostly made of tanned leather. The leather (or sometimes textile) uppers are characteristically decorated with embroidery, metal threads, pieces of glass, brass nails, cowry shells, etc. The uppers are generally connected to the soles with cotton thread.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a beautifully embroidered coat that dates back to the early seventeenth century and originates from Mughal India (acc. no. IS 18-1947).

The Lal Dera ('Red Tent') or the Shahi Lal Dera ('Royal Red Tent) is housed at the fort of Mehrangarh, in Rajasthan, India. It is believed to have been used by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666), who is known for commissioning the construction of the Taj Mahal mausoleum at Agra, or by his successor, Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707). The origin of the tent, however, is still disputed, and it may have been produced locally.

An embroidered Mughal wall hanging or curtain (or prayer mat?), measuring 117 x 81.25 cm, now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum (acc. no. IS 168-1950), is a beautiful example of Mughal period art from India.

Nakshi kantha is a form of kantha work. Kantha quilts are traditionally made from layers of cloth salvaged from old saris and dhotis, although by the end of the twentieth century new cloth was also being used. The layers of material of nakshi kanthas are normally sewn together with a running stitch.

A namdha is a felt floor covering made of wool (or a mixture with another material, such as cotton, to produce a white background), primarily produced in Kashmir, in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. The name was originally applied to felt mats with incorporated designs, but the term is now also used for coverings with chain stitched embroidery, worked with the ari hook.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a scarf made of cotton net with silk thread embroidery. The scarf originates in the Madras area and dates to c. 1855. It fomed part of the collection of the India Museum in London, before it was transferred to the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum) in 1879. The embroidery shows two large buteh motifs at each end. The shawl measures 126 x 54 cm.

The collection of the TRC Leiden includes a modern pair of mules, 29 x 5 cm, with a yellow vamp, hand-embroidered with metal thread (passing and crinkly purl) and further decorated with glass beads. The embroidery consists of stylised flowers.

Pakko work is carried out by women of the Sodha, Rajput and Meghwal communities in the Kutch area of Gujarat, Northwest India. The motifs are generally geometric and floral, sometimes with stylized figures of peacocks or scorpions. The motifs are traditionally first drawn with mud, and then worked in maroon or red, dark green, white, or yellow, often with buttonhole stitch. Outlining is done in black, white or yellow, using a chain stitch.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a palampore from late seventeenth or early eighteenth century India, embroidered with a motif of a flowering tree (as with all traditional palampores). It measures 328 x 264 cm. It is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery worked with a chain stitch.

The Parsis of western India traditionally practise a form of Zoroastrianism, the teachings of the Iranian prophet Zarathustra, who is known in the West as Zoroaster. He regarded Ahura Mazda as the supreme being and who sharply distinguished between Good and Evil. It was the state religion of Persia prior to the Muslim conquest of the country from the seventh century AD.

Phulkari is a counted thread embroidery technique from the Punjab and neighbouring districts in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. The word literally means ‘flower working’. This work is normally carried out by women, sometimes for family members and on other occasions for commercial purposes. The work is carried out in a floss silk thread (pat) on a cotton ground (khaddar) using a darning stitch on the reverse side of the cloth.

The Textile Research Centre in Leiden, The Netherlands, houses a remarkable set of a printing block and two embroidery samples. The printing block and the samples (one of which is a sari band) and the other a test piece) originate from India and they date to the early 21st century. The printing block, illustrated here, measures about 4 x 3 cm.

In April 2015, Bonhams in London auctioned a collection of armoury originally taken from the fortress of Seringapatam (Srirangapatna), the last refuge of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, after the British-Indian army had taken the site in AD 1799.

In April 2015, Bonhams in London auctioned a collection of armoury originally taken from the fortress of Seringapatam (Srirangapatna), the last refuge of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, after the British-Indian army had taken the site in AD 1799.

Page 5 of 7