Mahdi Army Quilted Garment

Quilted garment (late 19th century), Sudan? Quilted garment (late 19th century), Sudan? © The Trustees of the British Museum, London, acc. no. Af1899,1213.1.

This example of quilting is used for a ‘suit of armour’ for a horseman. The quilt is made from two layers of natural cotton material, with a wadding layer in between of raw cotton. The decoration consists of bands of red and dark blue cotton cloth sewn (applied) onto the cotton ground. The stitching of the quilting takes the form of horizontal rows of small running stitches worked in a thick, cotton sewing thread.

According to the British Museum’s Temporary Register (1861-1921, p. 90), it was taken from a Dervish warrior and given to the Museum by Major Ivor Maxse in 1899. This date is significant, as it is likely that the garment was taken from the ‘Dervish’ Mahdi warrior following either the Battle of Atbara (8th April 1898) or the Battle of Omdurman (2nd September 1898), the latter marking the end of the Mahdist state in Sudan.

Major (Frederick) Ivor Maxse (1862-1958), later known as General Sir Frederick Ivor Maxse, became a well-known general during the First World War (1914-1918).

See also the TRC Needles entries on Mahdi tunics and a Mahdi flag.

British Museum online catalogue (retrieved 7th July 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 21 May 2017 07:50
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