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  • Place of origin:

    Pulicat (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted and dyed cotton chintz, linen thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by G. P. Baker

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Handkerchiefs were an important export item from India in the 18th and early 19th centuries, but very few survive as they were inexpensive and generally used to destruction. Silk and cotton tie-dyed bandannas (from Hindi bandhna, to tie), printed silk and cotton types and woven cotton and silk examples were all popular. Pulicat on the Coromandel Coast was known for its woven handkerchiefs, and it is quite likely that chintz examples like this one were also made there. This type of sprigged floral patttern was particularly popular in France, where imitations called paillaca were made in the mid-18th century.

Physical description

Reversible handkerchief of mordant-dyed and resist-dyed cotton chintz, and with red and blue sprigs on a white ground. On each side there is a design with a cluster of flowers in the centre and in each corner. The field is filled with a repeating pattern of flower sprigs - they do not appear to be printed: the entire design is drawn by hand. The border is a running meander of flowers and foliage interspersed with birds. All four edges are hemmed. In one corner there are two initials (one is the letter P) worked in overcasting with white linen thread.

Place of Origin

Pulicat (made)


18th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted and dyed cotton chintz, linen thread


Height: 87 cm, Width: 88 cm, Height: 34.25 in, Width: 34.625 in, Length: 5.25 in repeat, Length: 14 cm repeat, Width: 6.25 in repeat, Width: 16 cm repeat

Object history note

Given by G.P.Baker

Descriptive line

Reversible handkerchief of mordant-dyed and resist-dyed d cotton chintz,Coromandel Coast, 18th century

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

Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.170, pl.148.
Plate 48, p. 98
Crill, Rosemary, Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West, London, 2008.
p. 108, cat. no. 101, pl. 95
Irwin, John and Katherine Brett, Origins of Chintz, London, 1970. With a catalogue of Indo-European cotton-paintings in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. ISBN 112900534.

Labels and date


This colourful, floral handkerchief was part of the great craze for Indian dyed cottons known as 'chintz'. The fashion swept Britain, France and the Netherlands in the 18th century. Traders living along the Coromandel Coast grew immensely wealthy from the production and export of chintzes. Handkerchiefs such as this one were often called Pulicat after one of the ports from which they were exported.

Chintz handkerchief
Reversible cotton, hand-drawn and dyed
Coromandel Coast, 1740-60
Given by G.P. Baker
V&A: 1S.166-1950 [03/10/2015-10/01/2016]



Subjects depicted

Floral pattern


Textiles; Accessories


South & South East Asia Collection

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