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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)
    Yazd (made)

  • Date:

    1840-1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (designed and made by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    silk thread, weaving, embroidering

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Shawl, plain weave silk embroidered with silk in straight stitches and couching; long twisted fringes along either end.

Pieced; dark green silk faded to a greenish-yellow. From the Museum Number end: a large zigzag in crimson red [A] of vertical zigzags and incomplete circles, broken at each point by spirals in white and yellow. This is followed by a line of large birds [peacocks?] in profile alternating with a stylized red plant motif in predominantly yellow and blue with green, red, white, orange and black highlights. Above this is a row of smaller bird forms, all facing left in predominantly blue, yellow, pale green, red and white. This is followed by a large central bush shaped motif in spirals of red, yellow with touches of red and light green[B]. Moving towards the centre, there is a small chevron roundel [C] containing botehs pointing clockwise, surrounded by small horned quadrupeds in various colours, and then a circle of tri-stemmed leaf motifs in 2 variations, each with a spiral root. This is then framed by 7 spiral 'rosettes' alternating with birds forms [in profile? Peacocks]. The same coloured silks are all used. In the centre, a large zigzag roundel encircling a star chevron and a band of small bird forms. This is surrounded by a repeat of [A] arranged in a circle in crimson with white spirals. Around this, a circle of alternately a peacock with fan tail in mainly crimson red, a peacock in profile either side of a large boteh motif in various colour combinations. Again, small occasional motifs of 7 spiral 'rosettes', plant sprays and 2-legged birds complete this pattern zone.
From this section, to another small chevron roundel like zone [C] but with some differences: theroundel botehs point anti-clockwise; the horned quadrupeds are missing; only one variation of tri-stemmed leaf motifs is present alternating with a pair of fish-like irds resting on perches. This is then framed by a large spiral star and alternately boteh motif. The same coloured silks are used.
The large central bush motif [B] then follows but here it has 5 small quadrupeds around it. The last pzttern zone consists of a row of stylized and isolated rosette or tri-blossomed plants, followed by a row of 5 tri-stemmed plants alternating with 3 peacocks in profile. It finishes with a zigzag band of couched black and white silk containing isolated white or orange spirals alternating with red or black infills. A small bird motif in a variety of colours is placed in each angle of the zigzag.
At both outer ends a narrow chevron band of red, black and white leads into the long twisted fringe.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)
Yazd (made)


1840-1870 (made)


Unknown (designed and made by)

Materials and Techniques

silk thread, weaving, embroidering


Length: 272.5 cm, Width: 88 cm

Labels and date

Zoroastrian Woman’s Tunic, Trousers, Cap and Shawl
Yazd, Iran
About 1840–70

Like other religious minorities in Iran, Zoroastrians were required to dress to identify their religion. They wore brightly coloured clothing and did not usually veil their faces. This created an obvious contrast with the outdoor clothing worn by Muslim women. A Zoroastrian woman would typically wear a tunic (qamis), together with loose trousers (shalvar) gathered at the ankle. These trousers were made from textile remnants because there were restrictions on Zoroastrians buying full widths of fabric. Women covered their heads with a small fitted cap (lachak), over which they would wrap several shawls around their head and shoulders.

Cotton plain weave with silk embroidery

Museum nos. IS.9, 9A, 9B, 9C-1954

Jameel Gallery [31/08/2012]

Production Note





Middle East Section

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