Lady from Amritsar

Lady from Amritsar, by Horace van Ruith (dated 1880) Lady from Amritsar, by Horace van Ruith (dated 1880) Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. IS.45-1886

'Lady from Amritsar' is a late nineteenth century oil painting depicting a lady wearing very elaborate, embroidered garments. The painting is said to have been worked in 1880 by the English artist, Horace van Ruith (1839-1923), although there are some questions about this attribution.

Amritsar is a city in the northwestern part of India, and the administrative centre for the Amritsar district in the state of Punjab. The painting was given by the Municipality of Amritsar and shown in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886. It was bought by the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum, London) in the same year. The aim of the painting was to produce a detailed and faithful record of the jewellery and clothes worn by a lady from Amritsar.

The woman is wearing an outfit consisting of two large head and body coverings, a tunic, a full skirt and trousers. It is likely that all of the main garments were made from silk cloth, but there is no way to prove this. Her outer, transparent shawl is decorated with buteh motifs along the transverse edges and isolated small, round motifs scattered over the ground. These are all worked in white.

Underneath this covering she is wearing another, green covering that is edged with a wide band in gold thread work (zari). She is also wearing a red tunic edged along the hems with zari work. Her full, blue silk skirt also has a deep band in zari work. It is not exactly clear, but her red trousers appear to have a decorative band at the bottom of the trouser legs. Finally, her slippers (actually mules) were embroidered with metal thread embroidery. In addition, to all of her decorative clothing, she is wearing a full set of head, ear, nose, neck, arm, hand, ankle and foot jewellery.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 21 March 2016)


Last modified on Sunday, 13 November 2016 17:49