Rumal (Square Shawl)

19th century CE

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Rumal is a square shawl that was specially designed for women from aristocratic families to be wrapped around the shoulder or across the front.

The borders of this shawl belong to a recycled pashmina kani shawl stitched separately to the base cloth. Kani shawls were woven using numerous small wooden spokes, traditionally called ‘toji’ or ‘kanis’ (meaning eyeless bobbins in Kashmiri language), in place of a shuttle. This was an extreamely time consuming technique. It took two weavers six to nine months to weave a piece of 2x1 meters. To reduce time the single shawl was woven in diff erent looms and then stiched together skillfully. The trend of cutting pieces of old shawls and stitching them to new plain shawls strated around the mid 19th century.

This rumal has a plain light yellow fi eld with broad borders along the sides. The border has figurative designs, depicting human, birds, elephants, tigers and cheetahs.

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  • Title: Rumal (Square Shawl)
  • Date Created: 19th century CE
  • Location: India
  • Provenance: Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
  • Type: Shawl
  • Medium: Wool
  • Region: Kashmir
  • History of Style of Technique: In Indian textile tradition, pashmina shawls from Kashmir hold a pride place. They were made of wool from a special breed of goat called pashm. A single shawl was a result of the collective eff orts of spinners, dyers, designers, weavers and embroiders. The designs composed of buta, badami (almond), ambi or kairi (paisely), meander and fl ora, khat-rast (stripes) and shikargah (hunting) motifs. The craft of making the woollen shawls received immense patronage from Mughal emperors. As mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari, Emperor Akbar gave these shawls the name param naram meaning very soft. It was a special prerogative of the royal to wear such shawls. Others could wear it only if it was presented by the ruler or permitted by him. In the 17th and the 18th centuries, both embroidered and woven shawls from Kashmir were in great demand by the Europeans and by affl uent families in India. In the 20th century these shawls were considered a signifi cant gift at the time of weddings in particular by Parsis. Apart from shawls, doshalas (shoulder mantle), patkas (sash or kamarbandha), rumals (square shawls), jamewars (garment piece to stitch jama) were also made.
  • Accession Number: 22.3130