This attractive thalposh, or tray-cover, is one of several surviving seventeenth-century cotton painted kalamkari pieces from the Golconda region. These colourful rectangular coverlets, perhaps placed over trays bearing gifts, are early examples of hand-painting on cotton fabric, which became very popular in the mid- seventeenth century in the export market.

This coverlet is a rare example that portrays an architectural setting. The centre shows a multi-storeyed palace which has arched pavilions and minarets on the roof, one of which has a bird perched on it. The lower storey of the palace has a central chamber flanked by two doors. The owner of the palace, dressed in Persian costume, reclines against a bolster in the central chamber; he offers a flower to a woman who is serving wine to him. A messenger seems to be waiting at one entrance, while a musician performs in the other doorway. The chamber is decorated with garlands and the walls have ceramic vessels in niches, depicted in a manner typical of seventeenth century kalamkari works.

Pairs of human figures are depicted in the four corners of the coverlet: the upper left has a messenger holding a staff and a portfolio, speaking to a nobleman or king. The upper right shows a Persian man resting on a carpet and speaking to a Chinese man while a bird perches on his wrist and sips from a cup he holds. At lower left stand a couple, wearing garments with Central Asian patterns; the man is holding a large vase. Above them is a small figure of an ascetic who wears a yogapatta wound round his legs. He has long locks and wears a beaded necklace and an armband and sits on a deerskin, holding a pineapple. At the lower right corner, two men share wine under a tree. The ground is populated with birds, butterflies, deer and multi-coloured rocks.

This is an excellent and historically important example of kalamkari from the Golconda region.


  • Title: Coverlet
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date: 1640/1650
  • Location: Golconda region (possibly Petaboli)
  • Physical Dimensions: 89 x 74 cm (with lining)
  • Accession Number: 48.7/103

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