Mughal – Weaving these type of needleworks was one of the most outstanding aspects of textile production in India under the Mughal dynasty from the late sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries.
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Size: 3’2 x 3’4
This panel was probably one of a series of identical panels used to line the tent of the temporary camps set up along the caravan routes of the Mughal emperors. Writing about Aurangzeb’s camp in 1665, the French physician François Bernier described linings with representations of large vases of flowers, much like this extremely fine needlework example. This is done with floss silk needle stitched on a fine silk base. The original rust color backing is made of linen and still in perfect condition.
Qanat panels provided an important element for the interior decoration of internal space as a result of the peripatetic nature of the Mughal court. Either individually, or sewn together as repeat pattern rows, they were employed as moveable screens in both the tents of hunting parties and various palaces used during tours of inspection.
The pattern of a flowering shrub encompassed by a cusped arch was almost certainly influenced by sixteenth century Safavid prototypes, which entered the Mughal decorative vocabulary in the second quarter of the seventeenth century, see for example, the now partially destroyed tile patterns of the Chini ka Rauza mausoleum in Agra, dating from circa 1639.
The popularity of this pattern can certainly be attributed to Jahangir’s passionate interest in botany and his active encouragement of the depiction of flowers and plants in the work for the court ateliers, with the result that it became an entranced element in Mughal design. For an evocative sixteenth century miniature, painted depicting the outer tent enclosure with hangings of repeat niches with red ground, white flowers and green cypress trees,
see Akbar Hunting, gouache and gold on paper, by Miskina and Sarwan, Mughal, circa 1590 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London: Acc.No. IS.2-1896 – 55/117).
See John Irwin and Margaret Hall, Indian Painted and Printed Fabrics, Ahmedabad, 1971, Chp.III, ‘Tent-Hangings, Floorspreads and Coverlets’, pp.22-35, Nos.20-22, pl.10-11, for a discussion on tent hangings, which includes examples of cotton, block printed and painted tent panels from a larger set (North India, eighteenth century), one of which has the distinctive flowering plant emanating from a vase with fruit, incorporating the small cloud band (lotas) motif in the lower corner, along with two wild animals. It is noted that two of the panels were cut into separate pieces and resewn together, and considering their structure, use and age, this is not surprising.
Amazing world class work of WovenArts.
Size: 3’2 x 3’4
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