Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent

The chadari, also often called a burqa, is a form of head and body covering, often decorated with hand or machine embroidery, worn by many women in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two names, chadari and burqa, have been used for this style of garment for a long time. Basically, burqa is the Pakistani term, while chadari is used in Afghanistan. However, most Westerners use the term burqa for both forms.

Chamba rumals are embroidered coverlet traditionally produced in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, in the ancient principality of Chamba, now part of the modern province of Himachal Pradesh, in and around the district of Kangra and its capital, Dharamshala. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a chamba rumal (coverlet from the former principality of Chamba, in the modern Himachal Pradesh, Northwest India). It is made of muslin with silk thread embroidery. The rumal shows a palace scene with Ganesha in the background. The embroidery, as will all rumals, is reversible and worked with a type of double darning stitch.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a chamba rumal from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. It originates from Himachal Pradesh, perhaps from Kangra, the traditional centre of the old principality of Chamba. The rumal (coverlet) measures 77 x 72 cm. It is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery and the decoration is reversible. It shows Krishna being adored by gopis (shepherdesses).

Chikan is a decorative technique from India, which became particularly popular due to the patronage of the Nawabs of Oudh (with Lucknow being the capital) in the nineteenth century. It is often also known as chikankâri (' chikan-work'). Its origins are shrouded in history, but it may well have originated in the Mughal period.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds a sample of the famous chikan fabric. It was made in Lucknow at the beginning of the twentieth century and measures 40.1 x 30 cm. This sample includes two delicately embroidered bands or cuffs, which would be cut out to be sewn onto a garment. The pale brown embroidery threads are muga silk, often added to the chikan fabrics from Lucknow.

Chikankâri literally refers to the making of chikan, a form of Indian whitework and shadow work.

For many centuries, trade links have existed between China and the west coast of India. It is not surprising, therefore, that a number of Chinese craftsmen, including embroiderers, settled in India, including Surat (north of Mumbai [Bombay]) from at least the nineteenth century onwards.

The Clive Museum at Powis is housed at Powis Castle, Powys, in the centre of Wales. It is now managed by the National Trust and includes a large collection of items collected in India dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

A photograph taken by the firm of Bourne and Shepherd shows two cloth and embroidery sellers, in the early 1870's in India. It is described as a carte-de-visite portrait.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a cloth from Chennai (Madras), India, that around 1880 was made at the Hobart School for Mussulman Girls, perhaps as a sample for the export. It is decorated with gold thread embroidery (zardozi) and beetlewing cases attached to net.  

Colcha is the Portuguese term for what in the English language is called a Bengalla, Hooghly, Satgaon or Indo-Portuguese quilt. They are textiles of some 2.5 by 3 m and produced in Bengal, northeastern India, and in western parts of the Indian subcontinent, mainly for the European (Portuguese) market from the early sixteenth to the mid-seveneteenth century.

The Costume and Textile Museum in Jaipur forms part of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The Museum itself is housed inside the City palace of the royal family of the rulers of Jaipur, the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a piece of dress fabric measuring 220 x 106 cm. It was probably made in Gujarat, western India, in the early eighteenth century, and consists of a cotton ground material with silk thread embroidery. The designs include birds, flowers, fruit, but also architectural motifs and are worked in chain stitch. The designs are repeated twice for every width.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a dress measuring 101 x 111 cm. It was made in the late nineteenth century, and consists of a silk satin ground material with silk thread embroidery and shisha work. The embroidery was worked in buttonholechain stitch and interlacing stitch. Curatorial information suggests that the dress originates from the Muslim Memon or merchant community in Banni, Kutch.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an eighteenth century chamba rumal (coverlet named after the former principality of Chamba, in the modern Himachal Pradesh state, Northwest India). It measures 89 x 82 cm and is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery. The decoration of the rumal is divided into sixteen panels, each containing a scene relating to Krishna

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses an ivory-coloured piece of cloth made of cotton, powdered with embroidered sprigs of rose-red flowers on a green stem, worked in silk. The cloth originates from India and dates to the late eighteenth century and measures 114 x 137 cm. It may have been part of a dress, or intended to be so, for a woman in early nineteenth century Europe.

The India Museum in London used to house part of a cotton scarf that was produced in Bengal and acquired in Nepal in c. 1855. It is decorated with a woven checked pattern with tussah silk threads. It is also embroidered in tussah silk with circular and floral motifs. The scarf has been in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, since 1879. The piece measures 105 x 84 cm.

Illustrated is an example of an Indian turban band, now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The band was made in either Faizabad or Lucknow (India) during the second half of the eighteenth century. The band is 64.5 x 10.5 cm in size (including the fringe). It is made of velvet on a canvas base. It is decorated with floss silk embroidery, silver and silver gilt wire and spangles.

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