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Hunting Coat

ca. 1620-1630 (made)
Place Of Origin

This splendid coat was made for a man at the Mughal court in the first half of the 17th century. It is embroidered in fine chain stitch on a white satin ground, with images of flowers, trees, peacocks, lions and deer. The area around the neck is left free of embroidery, as a separate collar or tippet, probably of fur, would have been attached. Chain-stitch embroidery of this type is associated with professional, male embroiderers of the Gujarati Mochi community, and they were employed to embroider fine hangings and garments for the Mughal court, as well as for export to the West.
read Indian embroidery Our collection of Indian textiles ranges from rare courtly pieces to archaeological fragments, to everyday garments and fabrics, dating from the 14th century to the present day. Embroidery remains one of India's most recognisable and most prized textile traditions. Discover eight of the mo...
read The arts of the Mughal Empire The great age of Mughal art lasted from about 1580 to 1650 and spanned the reigns of three emperors: Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Hindu and Muslim artists and craftsmen from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent worked with Iranian masters in the masculine environment of the r...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered satin with silk
Brief Description
Man's hunting coat of embroidered satin with silk, India, ca. 1620-1630
Physical Description
Hunting coat of embroidered satin with silk in fine chain stitch in blue, yellow, green, gold and brown silk. All-over pattern of hillocks, flowering trees and plants, peacocks, storks, ducks, butterflies, insects and animals including tigers, deer and rabbits.
Dimensions
  • Height: 97cm
  • Height: 39.5in
  • Width: 36in
Style
Gallery Label
  • Riding coat Satin, embroidered wit silk Mughal, probably made for a prince of the house of Jahangir, early 17th century IS.18-1947 White ground embroidered with coloured silks in fine chain stitch, in shades of blue, yellow, green and brown, with a repeating pattern of animals, birds and winged insects in a rocky landscape of trees and flowers, with the great cats seen devouring their prey, or reposing peacefully in the shade. The design parallels that of Jahangir period manuscript borders, derived from Herati prototypes, but individual flowering plants such as poppies and daffadils are depicted with a realsim and prominence unusual in painted landscape borders. The knee-length coat is open in front meeting edge to edge, with no sleeves or collar. The upper part is shaped to the waist, and the skirts flared on either side, with vertical placket slits and hem slit on either side. A border of scrolling leafy stems and flowerheads surrounds the armholes, placket openings and edges of the garment except for the area round the neck and upper front, where it ends abruptly about half way between waist and neck. The embroidery was probably worked by Gujaratis already practised in assimilating and subtly Indianising Persian concepts. Fine chain stitch was a speciality of 'Cambay' embroiderers, their mastery of this cool palette so appropraite to the subject and itterly alien to better-known traditions of heavily shaded brilliant pinks and blues, gives some indication of the versatility of craftsmen long accustomed to pleasing foreign patrons. the standard suggests an origin in the imperial workshops. Like other articles of Mughal court dress, such coats were tailored in Persian style, and often worn with a fur tippet round the neck, which may explain the missing section of border. Variants appear as riding coats in many Mughal paintings, some patterned with the tiger stripe border borrowed from Ottoman textiles. Coats with landscape designs are less plentiful, but several examples are known including the painting of the emperor Babur sitting in a chair reading (no. 38) and the falconer (no. 34). The fabrics appear to be brocades; none of the designs is as detailed or realistic as this embroidery. The Mughal emperors bestowed a dress of honour on persons they wished to distinguish. This, the Khil'at, included a coat called nadiri ('rarity'). Jahangir, like his father Akbar, was very interested in dress, and designed a special nadiri 'of length from the waist down to below the thighs, and it has no sleeves'. Nothing was known by the vendor of our coat as to its history. She was not aware of any family link with India. [Veronica Murphy, The Indian Heritage, V&A 1982, cat. 252](1982)
  • RIDING COAT This 17th-century man's coat is one of the finest surviving examples of Mughal dress. It was stitched by professional male embroiderers from Gujarat, using a needle and hook (ari). The cosmopolitan court drew its influences from across Europe and Asia. The landscape derives from Chinese imports. The life-like daffodils and poppies are taken from European prints brought to the Mughal court by missionaries and traders. Silk (satin weave) embroidered with silk Probably Gujarat, 1620-5 V&A: IS.18-1947(03/10/2015-10/01/2016)
Object history
Stitching of the kind used here was particularly associated with Gujarati craftsmen. The style of the coat and the cool palette of the colours of the design suggest Iranian influence.
Subject depicted
Summary
This splendid coat was made for a man at the Mughal court in the first half of the 17th century. It is embroidered in fine chain stitch on a white satin ground, with images of flowers, trees, peacocks, lions and deer. The area around the neck is left free of embroidery, as a separate collar or tippet, probably of fur, would have been attached. Chain-stitch embroidery of this type is associated with professional, male embroiderers of the Gujarati Mochi community, and they were employed to embroider fine hangings and garments for the Mughal court, as well as for export to the West.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.85, no.61.
  • The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982 Number: ISBN 0 906969 26 3pp. 94-5, cat. no. 252, Veronica Murphy
  • Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010p. 58, pl. 36. and p. 207, pl. 168 (detail)
  • Indian embroidery / Rosemary Crill ; photography by Richard Davis. London: V&A Publications, 1999 Number: 185177310X, 1851772944 (pbk.)p.40, pl. 22.
  • Crill, Rosemary, Arts of Asia, vol. 45, no. 5, September - October 2015, "The Fabric of India" Exhibition, p.70, pl. 8.
  • The art of India and Pakistan, a commemorative catalogue of the exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1947-8. Edited by Sir Leigh Ashton. London: Faber and Faber, [1950]p. 214, cat. no. 1017, pl. 66
  • Ayers, J. Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1983, ISBN 0-85667-120-7p. 71
  • Irwin, John C., Indian Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1968pl. 58
  • Irwin; John, Indian Embroidery (large picture book, no. 7) London: H. M. Stationery Office, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1951pl. 1
  • Giovanni Curatola, ed. Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th century, Firenze Museu, 2018, fig. 13, p. 113.
Collection
Accession Number
IS.18-1947

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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