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Hanging

  • Place of origin:

    Burma (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1885-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool with appliqué embroidery in felt and wool, cotton, braids and sequins, partly painted

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by W. Braxton Sinclair

  • Museum number:

    IS.2-1963

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a fine example of a Burmese pictorial textile hanging known as a kalaga. The owner would have used it either as a decorative wall hanging, a room partition, or as a screen hung outside the house on festive occasions. This one is decorated with embroidered stitch-work and appliqué of coloured textiles (partly painted) on a red wool ground.

This kalaga illustrates episodes from a popular legend known as Manohari, based on the Malaysian and Indonesian Panji legends and plays, which were also current in Burma. In the scene depicted here, the heroine, Princess Manohari or Dway Mai Naw, prepares to leave court and flee to the country of her birth to escape being offered as a sacrifice. Behind her is a court scene in which she and her princely husband are shown in happier times, seated in state attended by two ministers. The costumes of the figures are depicted in the stylised tradition of Burmese theatre and relate to fashions worn in the Mandalay Court of about 1880. The kalaga itself dates to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Britain controlled the whole of Burma by 1885. The extravagant style of kalagas appealed to Burmese and Europeans alike and their popularity soared in the mid 19th century. The donor of this kalaga obtained it from a British architect who worked in Burma in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Physical description

Kalaga or hanging in red wool with stitch-work and appliquéd with embroidered coloured felt and wool, cotton, braids and sequins.

Red ground with the the central design framed within broad borders and smaller panels consisting of scrolling vegetation, eight panels containing male dancers, and acheik textile patterns. The figures are partly painted.

The subject of this kalaga is Manohari (Dway Mai Naw). A couple watch as the distraught Dway Mai Naw prepares to fly back to her country, to escape being offered up as a sacrifice. Her little son, who is accompanied by one of the ministers, points in her direction. The figure of the lady standing on her own could be the heroine in her human form. Behind her, is a court scene in which she and her prince are shown seated in state in happier times, and attended by two ministers.

The figures are dressed in the fashions worn at the Mandalay Court ca. 1880.

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Place of Origin

Burma (made)

Date

ca. 1885-1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Wool with appliqué embroidery in felt and wool, cotton, braids and sequins, partly painted

Dimensions

Length: 293.5 cm, Width: 124.5 cm, Length: 115.5 in, Width: 49 in

Object history note

The story on the textile, identified by Noel Singer, June 2002.
Historical significance: The Manohari or Manohara are from a series of plays based on the Panji legends and cycles of plays of Malaysia and Indonesia. Reproduced in Burma in both plays and in the marionette theatre.

Descriptive line

Kalaga or hanging in wool and appliquéd with embroidered coloured felt and wool, Burma, ca. 1885-1900

Production Note

Kalaga obtained by the donor, W. Braxton Sinclair, while he was working in Burma as an architect in the late 19th/early 20th century.

Attribution note: This kalaga was probably made in the same late 19th century workshop and the designs created by the same artist as: IS 44-1967; IS 3-1963; IM 47-1925; IS 76-1957; IS 1-1963; IM 159-1924. Inf. from Noel Singer June 2002

Materials

Felt; Cotton; Braid; Sequins; Wool

Techniques

Embroidery; Applique; Metal-working; Weaving

Categories

Wall coverings; Embroidery; Textiles

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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