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Dress

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton muslin with beetle-wing and metal thread embroidery. The style of metal thread embroidery indicates that it was done in Britain; it does not surround each wing case as it would have done if executed in India.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Kathy Brown

  • Museum number:

    T.1698:1 to 5-2017

  • Gallery location:

    Temporary Exhibition, Room 40, case x15 []

The wings of jewel beetles (buprestidae) were traditionally used to embellish textiles in South America and South and Southeast Asia. Emerald-green beetle-wing decoration became a symbol of high status in India during the Mughal period (1526-1756). Western traders in India then introduced these textiles to Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. British newspapers report on several women wearing dresses decorated with beetle wings at court during the late 1820s and early 1830s. By the 1860s beetle wings were being imported to Britain in volumes of 25,000 per consignment, to be applied to textiles in imitation of the Indian technique. The wings were cut, shaped and arranged in stylised floral patterns, often accented with metal thread. The wings would have glittered in candlelight, achieving a sought-after iridescent and jewel-like effect.

Materials and Techniques

Cotton muslin with beetle-wing and metal thread embroidery. The style of metal thread embroidery indicates that it was done in Britain; it does not surround each wing case as it would have done if executed in India.

Dimensions

Height: 1450 mm, Width: 1150 mm, Depth: 1200 mm

Descriptive line

Dress, muslin with beetle-wing embroidery, Britain, 1868-9

Materials

Beetle wings; Cotton

Techniques

Embroidery

Categories

Fashion; Women's clothes; Clothing

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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