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Hanging

  • Place of origin:

    Burma (made)

  • Date:

    late 19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered wool with silver and gilt threads and sequins, with appliqué of coloured braids, silk and felt fabrics, padded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Col. J. F. Yule

  • Museum number:

    IS.77-1957

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

At one time in Burma the depiction of peacocks on this pictorial textile hanging known as a kalaga would have indicated a royal association. Peacocks symbolized the sun, and were the national emblem of the Konbaung Kings (1752-1885). The use of their imagery was restricted to the royal family and the artists of the palace workshops. However, after the annexation of Burma by the British in 1885 and the exile of the royal family, designs and materials which had been reserved for royalty became accessible to everyone.

The extravagant style of kalagas appealed to Burmese and Europeans alike and their popularity soared in the mid 19th century. This example, of black wool with an appliquéd coloured cloths, silver and gilt sequins and threads, was intended as a table cover for the European market.

Physical description

Kalaga or Burmese hanging of embroidered wool. The design shows a central fan tail peacock set in a circular panel surrounded by a square with four further fan tailed peacocks at each corner interspersed by four parakeets. The birds are set against a rich background of sprig-like foliate patterns. Black wool with an applique design of peacocks and parrots within foliate patterns of coloured cloths and silver and gilt sequins and threads.

Place of Origin

Burma (made)

Date

late 19th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered wool with silver and gilt threads and sequins, with appliqué of coloured braids, silk and felt fabrics, padded

Dimensions

Length: 89 cm, Width: 89 cm, Length: 35 in, Width: 35 in

Object history note

Historical significance: "a peacock (u-daung) is a symbol of the sun and was the national emblem of the Konbaung Kings (1752-1885)". Fraser-Lu "Burmese Lacquer"; 1985.

Descriptive line

Kalaga or Burmese hanging of embroidered wool, Burma, late 19th century.

Production Note

Previously considered to be from Delhi. Re-attributed by Dr. D. Swallow and Veronica Murphy in 1987.

Attribution note: Designs and materials which had been reserved for royalty became available to all after the annexation of Burma by the British in 1885. See IS 364-1964, ca. 1880 & F. Beato's catalogue of 1900 for kalagas featuring fantailed peacocks. The looped designs on the borders are similar to the example in his catalogue no. 50. But this particular piece is obviously the work of another far more competent kalaga maker. (Opinion from Noel F. Singer, June 2002.)

Materials

Wool; Cotton; Silk; Silver thread; Gilt thread; Silver gilt sequins

Techniques

Weaving; Embroidering; Applique; Metal working

Subjects depicted

Peacock

Categories

Textiles; Wall coverings; Embroidery; Interiors

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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