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  • Place of origin:

    Madras (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hobart School for Mussulman Girls (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidery with gold thread and pieces of beetle-wing on net.

  • Museum number:

    IS.1917 to E-1883

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This piece is one of a group of six similar pieces which may have been samples made for the export trade. The gold embroidery (zardozi) used metal thread and pieces of the iridescent wing-cases (elytra) of the beetle Sternocera aequisignata (family Buprestidae, Jewel Beetles). Many of these beetle wing cases were collected in Burma (Myanmar) and sold on through Kolkata (Calcutta). Valued for their hardness and permanence of colour, their reflective qualities were sometimes thought to ward off evil spirits. Beetle wings were used by both indigenous groups such as the Naga of N.E. India and in sumptuous Mughal court dress. Beetle wing embroidery became fashionable in Europe in the 19th century. It was usually done in India, but sometimes in Europe, using imported cut and pierced sections of beetle wing.

Physical description

Sections of black muslin net embroidered with gold thread and pieces of beetle-wing.

Place of Origin

Madras (made)


ca.1880 (made)


Hobart School for Mussulman Girls (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidery with gold thread and pieces of beetle-wing on net.


Length: 117 cm IS.1917-1883, Width: 48 cm IS.1917-1883

Object history note

This was one part of a 'dress' bought by Caspar Purdon Clarke for £5 in India in 1882. It was part of a consignment of thirty seven cases and packages shipped from Bombay by Messrs Henry King & Co. on the SS 'Darlington' in June 1882, and would probably have been sent by railway from Madras.

Descriptive line

Embroidered muslin, Madras (Chennai), ca. 1880.


Cotton; Gold; Beetle-wing



Subjects depicted

Leaves; Flowers




South & South East Asia Collection

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