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Shoulder bag

  • Place of origin:

    Shan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1923 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brocaded in silks and cotton thread wound with silvered paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by HM Queen Mary

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Shoulder bag formed of four rectangular panels of hand-loom brocaded silk and cotton. Figured with horizontal rows of magenta, green and yellow spots on a silver ground. The meeting of these panels is over-bound with red silk thread and edged with a double ridge of coix-seeds (Job's Tears). At the edges of the bag, on each side, are four stars of the seeds, and a double row of them edge the two bottom tassels plaited in skeins of yellow silk and black cotton threads. The top carrying-sling is woven in the same colours as the tassels. Woven on a native hand loom in coloured silks and thread formed of strips of silvered paper wound round a cotton core.

Place of Origin

Shan (made)


ca. 1923 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brocaded in silks and cotton thread wound with silvered paper


Length: 24 cm, Width: 21.4 cm, Length: 67 cm carrying-sling, Length: 33 cm tassels, Length: 9.5 in, Width: 8.5 in, Length: 26.5 in carrying-sling, Length: 13 in tassels approx.

Object history note

This exceptionally fine shoulder bag, was a gift from King George V and Queen Mary in 1924. It was first exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley (1923-1924) probably in the Burma Pavilion.

Historical context note

Woven by people of the South Shan States on a native hand loom. The sumptuousness of this article suggest that it may have originally been intended for a member of a Sawbwa's (shan prince's) family.

From the mid 18th century the Shan states (an area which forms the eastern region of Burma) were semi-autonomous. The states were ruled by princes who paid tribute to the Burmese kings of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885). Under British rule (1885-1948) they continued to have a degree of independence

For further examples of similarly fine bags see VA IS 86-1965 and Innes Costumes of Upper Burma and the Shan States; Halifax Museums 1957; p.11;Fig. 11; GS 32 & 33 & 57

Descriptive line

Shoulder bag formed of four rectangular panels of brocaded silk and cotton, Shan, ca. 1923

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Innes, "Costumes of Upper Burma and the Shan States", Halifax Museum, 1957, p. 11

Production Note



Cotton; Silvered paper thread; Job's tears; Silk thread; Dye


Brocading; Paper-making; Embroidering; Metal-working; Dyeing


Accessories; Textiles; Clothing


South & South East Asia Collection

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