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  • Place of origin:

    Sindh (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1855 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton with silk and metal embroidery

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This fine cotton woman's shirt (kurta) is embroidered with a floral pattern in metallic embroidery, with more silver and gold edging around the neck, cuffs and hem. The design motif of bunches of grapes is composed of silver-gilt domed sequins and floss silk, while the heavy borders incorporate actual strips of flattened metal. The weight of heavy, gold embroidered edgings attached to fine cotton or silk ground fabrics has often meant that fragile courtly garments like this woman's shirt had a short life and were then discarded. It was common practice in the Indian subcontinent, however, to recycle costly and elaborate edgings on another garment, thereby prolonging their useful lives. The pristine condition of this shirt suggests that it was never (or very rarely) worn, and it has been preserved in the collections of the Indian Museum and then the V & A since 1855.

The shirt would have been worn over a small bodice (choli) in the same material, and a large, matching veil (odhni) would have been added over the head and shoulders. The ensemble would be completed by a full skirt, which has not survived. The off-centre neck opening of this shirt is a style found in rural as well as courtly garments, especially in the north and west of the Indian subcontinent.

Place of Origin

Sindh (made)


ca. 1855 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Cotton with silk and metal embroidery


Length: 71 cm back of neck to hem, Width: 156 cm across sleeves

Object history note

Transferred from India Museum 1879. Slip book entry 4028: 'Woman's Costume / Scind / 55 / In four pieces / Muslin Emd'd with Gold & Silver / Kincob drawers'

Descriptive line

Shirt, part of a woman's ensemble, muslin with applied metal embellishments, silk and gold-wrapped thread, Sindh, ca. 1855; Textiles; Clothing; Women's Clothes

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

Dress in detail from around the world / Rosemary Crill, Jennifer Wearden and Verity Wilson ; with contributions from Anna Jackson and Charlotte Horlyck ; photographs by Richard Davis, drawings by Leonie Davis. London: V&A Publications, 2002 Number: 1851773770 (hbk), 1851773789 (pbk)
pp.77 and 111, pl. 42 (detail).
Ashmore, Sonia. "Muslin", London, V&A Publishing, 2012.

Production Note



Cotton; Metal; Silk



Subjects depicted

Floral pattern


Clothing; Embroidery; Textiles; Women's clothes; India Museum


South & South East Asia Collection

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