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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk with silk and metal threads, trimmed with needle lace, lined with cotton, pearls

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Woman's blouse and skirt. The blouse is made of thin sky-blue woven silk embroidered with silk, metal thread and pearls, trimmed with needle lace and faced with woven silk. It is straight-cut with added panels at the side which have been pieced at the shoulders. The sleeves are straight set and wide, with a small folded square gusset underarm. Very fine hand-sewn run-and-fell seams. The side seams are slit at the hem for about 15 cm. The front of the blouse has two long vertical openings from neck to waist, which in effect create a separate panel at the centre front. This panel is rounded at the neck and attached at each side to the back of the neck with a small braid button and loop. The centre panel, the hem and the bottom of the sleeves are embroidered with a scrolling floral pattern in a gold thread wound on a silk core, with some red and green chenille thread and seed pearls. The hem and sleeves are scalloped at the edges and finished with gold thread and seed pearls. The neck and both sides of the front slits are finished with needle-woven braid in gold thread and black silk and trimmed with gold needle lace. The inside of the neck, the centre panel and the edges of the front openings are faced with a darker blue silk.

The skirt is made of woven silk embroidered with metal thread, lined with cotton. Coral coloured silk is woven with a white spot and lined with unbleached cotton. It is a very full skirt made from ten loom widths of fabric gathered by a drawstring at the waist. The hem is trimmed with pale blue satin, bias cut, and a braid of black silk, gold thread and gold strip, forming a row of scallops at each side, worked over orange silk padding.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


1800-1840 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk with silk and metal threads, trimmed with needle lace, lined with cotton, pearls


Height: 130 cm overall dimension in frame, Width: 130 cm overall dimension in frame, Depth: 10 cm overall dimension in frame, Weight: 108 kg

Object history note

The costume is said to have been acquired in Persia (Iran) by Lieutenant-Colonel (later Sir) Justin Shiel, who was envoy and minister to the Persian court. It may be compared to costumes shown in Qajar-period portraits. The distinctive double-slit front to the blouse appears to have been characteristic to the second quarter of the century (ref. S.J. Falk, Qajar Paintings, 1972).

Purchased by the V&A from Sotheby's.

Descriptive line

Blouse and skirt, silk embroidered with seed pearls and metal thread, Iran, Qajar period, 1800-1840

Labels and date

Jacket, Blouse and Skirt Iran
About 1800–40

Jameel Gallery

Women of the Qajar court in early 19th-century Tehran would have worn this combination of short jacket, gauzy open-fronted blouse and voluminous skirt. They would have henna-painted hands and feet, and sometimes even painted bodies. A painting on the wall opposite this case show Qajar women wearing similar clothing.

Woven silk with metal thread, silk embroidery and seed pearls.
Museum nos. 730-1884, T.57-1979 [31/08/2012]


Silk; Satin; Seed pearls; Chenille; Gold thread; Gold braid; Metallic lace




Textiles; Clothing; Fashion

Production Type



Middle East Section

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