An uttariya or angavastra, an unstitched cloth or scarf is used by both men and women to cover their upper body. Such unstitched garments were used on special occasions and religious ceremonies.

This shela has shikargah design on the ground. Animals like antelopes, elephants, tigers and various birds chased by hunters are shown in between stylistically woven creepers representing forest. Both ends of the shela are densely brocaded with forest scenes. There are bands with alternative designs of lion capital coat-of-arms of the Princely state of Faridkot and coat-of-arms of the British East India Company. Faridkot had cordial relations with the British at that time. This seems to be a specially commissioned piece to present it to some British official or vice versa.

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  • Title: Shela (Angavastra)
  • Date Created: 19th century CE
  • Location: India
  • Type: Scarf
  • Medium: Silk with brocade
  • Region: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • History of Style of Technique: While well-to-do and aristocratic families have been the main patrons of luxury textiles, many others across the subcontinent too aspire to have them for special occasions and this patronage has enabled the survival of these opulent fabrics. Historical records mention the royal wardrobes and craftsmen specially employed to create costumes as desired by royalty. The kinkhab (brocaded silk cloth) was used for creating exclusive textiles. Very fine Dhaka muslin generally used for jamas (coat) was known for its exquisite craftsmanship and its fineness was judged by the fact that one could pass the eleven-metre or ten yards long cloth of one yard width through a finger ring. Jama, salwar, patka and the elaborate pagadi form the male costume whereas the exclusive costumes of ladies included elaborate ghagara-choli and odhani, kurtis, paijama and peshwaz. The sari in its myriad forms and styles of drapery has been an all-time favorite costume of India. Saris like Paithani, Maheshvari, Baluchar, Kuruppur and Benaresi are good examples of this tradition. In addition to costumes, furnishing materials, carpets, embroidered trappings of animals, palanquin covers, canopies, umbrellas, throne covers, bed covers, hangings, drapes, curtains and tents also form an important part of the royal textile tradition.
  • Accession Number: 2010.21