Textile

ca. 1851 (made)
Textile thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Gold embroidery (zardozi) like this used different forms of metal thread, shaped pieces of metal foil and hammered metal spangles (chumkis), as well as 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver tissue made of woven strips of silver and silk wefts with pattern made of applied metal strips in leaf shapes, dome shaped spangles (katori) and pieces of beetle wing.
Brief Description
Embroidered dress fabric with applied metal strips, sequins and pieces of beetle-wing, Madras, about 1851
Physical Description
Silver tissue with applied flower pattern.
Dimensions
  • Width: 53.5cm
  • Length: 127cm
Object history
This piece was purchased from the 1851 Exhibition for £2.12.6d (£2.65).
Subject depicted
Summary
Gold embroidery (zardozi) like this used different forms of metal thread, shaped pieces of metal foil and hammered metal spangles (chumkis), as well as 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.
Bibliographic Reference
Crill, Rosemary, Indian Embroidery. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1999, pp.70-71.
Collection
Accession Number
753-1852

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record createdMarch 26, 2003
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