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  • Place of origin:

    Shan (made)

  • Date:

    first quarter 20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glazed cotton, cowrie shells and beads, and with appliqué work

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr R. Grant Brown, Esq.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This sash is part of an arresting costume of dark hues, subtle patterns and brilliant silver work. It would have been worn as an every day garment, as well as on special occasions, by a woman of the Akha ethnic group of Kentung State--the eastern most state of Burma which borders Thailand.

The ensemble was worn by an Akha woman on a visit to Mandalay, and there it was purchased from her by the donor. The whole costume includes a jacket with two long swinging ropes of beads and seeds which hang at each side, a gathered skirt, a breast cloth, separate leggings as well as personal ornaments and a conical palm-leaf hat. The latter strikingly is decorated with rings of glass beads, seeds and straw-work and a heavy fringe of coloured glass beads and side strings of white seeds and brightly coloured tassels.

The Akha are a farming people with deep beliefs in the supernatural and they celebrate not only the usual harvest and new year festivals, but also hold ceremonies accompanied by animal sacrifices and other rituals. The Akha originally came from Yunnan in Southern China and a Chinese influence is evident in the scrolling appliqué work in the panels at the bottom of the back of the jacket.

Physical description

Black sash of glazed cotton. The ends are decorated with large cowrie shells, appliqué panels of blue, red and yellow, and a fringe of strung beads and twisted cotton.

Place of Origin

Shan (made)


first quarter 20th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Glazed cotton, cowrie shells and beads, and with appliqué work


Length: 196 cm, Length: 18 cm fringe, Width: 16 cm

Object history note

The costume was worn by a girl of the Akha ethnic group of the Southern Shan States on a visit to Mandalay and was there purchased from her by the Donor.

Sash from a costume worn by a woman of the Akha ethnic group of Kentung District, Southern Shan States Burma. An ensemble that includes personal ornaments and a distinctive conical hat as well as a jacket, gathered skirt, breast cloth, separate leggings. Mainly of black cotton fabric, with applique of bright and variously coloured cottons, and embroidery of beads (glass and seeds) and cowrie shells. ca. 1st quarter 20th century

Descriptive line

Sash of glazed cotton, shells, beads, and appliqué work, Shan, first quarter of 20th century

Production Note

Attribution note: Made by a woman of the Akha ethnic group


Cotton; Cowrie shells; Beads


Stitched; Appliqued


Women's clothes; Textiles; Accessories


South & South East Asia Collection

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