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  • Place of origin:

    Burma (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890-1920 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

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

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by W. Braxton Sinclair

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This fine Burmese pictorial textile hanging known as a kalaga was obtained by the donor, a British architect working in Burma in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It would have been used as a decorative wall hanging, a room partition, or as a screen hung outside the house on festive occasions. This example, illustrating scenes from either Burmese legends or from the Buddhist Jataka stories (which is yet to be identified), is made of stitch-work and appliqué of partly painted coloured textiles on a red wool ground. The costumes of the figures are depicted in the stylised tradition of Burmese theatre and relate to the fashions worn in the Mandalay Court of about 1880.

Britain's control of Burma extended as the 19th century progressed, and the country was annexed in 1885. The extravagant style of kalagas appealed to Burmese and Europeans alike and their popularity soared in the mid 19th century.

Physical description

Kalaga or hanging of red wool with stitch-work and appliquéd with coloured felt, partly painted, wool, cotton, braids and sequins.

Red ground with the central design framed within broad borders and smaller panels consisting of scrolling vegetation, eight panels containing male dancers on hobby horses, and acheik textile patterns.

With scenes from a Jataka story or Burmese legend. Beginning from the left: Within a pavilion, which is decorated with four chandeliers and crystal drops, a prince and princess are seated on a dais in conversation; Behind them a well-dressed young man standing by an open door, speaks to an official armed with a bow, who is accompanied by a Karen male, identifiable by his distinct ethnic dress; An equestrian figure is being guided by a nat (spirit) figure, who is pointing in the direction of a palace scene in which a princely figure sits with two officials.

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

Place of Origin

Burma (made)


ca. 1890-1920 (made)



Materials and Techniques

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


Length: 286.5 cm, Width: 116.9 cm, Length: 112.75 in, Width: 46 in

Descriptive line

Kalaga or hanging of wool appliquéd with coloured felt, Burma, ca. 1890-1920

Production Note

Kalaga obtained by the donor W. Braxton Sinclair while he was working in Burma as an architect in the late 19th or 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 2-1963; IM 47-1925; IS 76-1957; IS 1-1963; IM 159-1924. Inf. from Noel Singer June 2002


Cotton; Braid; Sequins; Wool; Felt


Applique; Metal-working; Weaving; Embroidery


Wall coverings; Embroidery; Textiles


South & South East Asia Collection

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