1601 - 1900

Textile Treasures: Shawls and Sarees

Salar Jung Museum

Explore the history, beauty and craftsmanship of India's most iconic textiles from the collection of Salar Jung Museum

Textile Treasures: Shawls and Sarees
The textile collection of the Salar Jung Museum has both vastness and variety. One comes across Kashmir shawls, Patola sarees, Banarasi sarees, jamdanis of Lucknow, Kanthas of Bengal, Phulkari of Punjab, Chamba rumals. This exhibit highlights some Kashmiri shawls and  Banarasi odhnis and sarees from the collection.
Shawls
Salar Jung Museum has a rich collection of Kashmir shawls from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A ruler of Kashmir, Zain-ul-abidin from the 15th century patronised shawl-weaving. He was a lover of the arts and introduced Turkistan weavers for shawl making. The word shawl is derived from Persian “shal” originally representing a class of woven fabric. Emperor Akbar was also fascinated with the Kashmir shawl. It finds mention in the Rajatarangini and the Ain-i-akbari. In this 18th century miniature painting, Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah of Golconda is seen seated and wearing a blue shawl.

Kashmir Shawls: Inspired by Nature

In India, the shawl is worn as a shoulder-mantle and was originally a male garment, the finest having been worn by nobility. There is evidence that Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah of Golconda (seen in the previous slide) used to wear Kashmir shawls. The shawls have rich decorative design which were either embroidered or woven on them. The turanj, a decorated mango shaped design is a favourite on the shawls.

The shawls are usually made from wool but can also be a fabric of mixed yarn. The variety of design is definitely inspired from nature, not surprising from the land of picturesque valleys and mountains.

Woollen shawl
18th century

This is a rich woollen shawl from with turanj (mango-shaped motif) and floral designs all over. Flower creeper border around with lettering in silk threads.

Himroo shawl
18th century

An exquisite white woollen shawl, most probably from Kashmir having turanj shape panels, floral designs all over in yellow and red, with cream colour plain space at each end.

Square woollen shawl
18th century

This is an interesting and elegant red, black, green and grey square woollen shawl from the eighteenth century with circular panel in the centre with vase design around it. Elongated leafy and turanj designs at the corners. Overlapping turanj designs around, the designs having been produced in silk and zari.

Rectangular shawl
18th century

Ornately designed rectangular shawl from the 18th century with floral patterns in circular panel in the centre with similar designs in the quarter circle at the corners. Flower plant designs all over against red background.

Himroo shawl
18th century

A richly designed cream colour shawl from the eighteenth century in pieces stitched together wioth flower patterns all over and circular crenellated panel in the centre having floral designs. Similar quarter circles can be seen at the corners. Floral creeper borders around the shawl.

Himroo shawl
16th century

A rich woollen shawl with flower pattern in slanting rows all over. Circuar panel with designs in the centre and similar quarter-circle at the corners. Flower creeper borders on two sides.

Woollen shawl
18th century

A red woollen shawl having floral designs in turanj shape panels all over in pieces stitched together.

Patka (waistband)
17th century

Floral shawl in silk having mango shaped designs, patka (gold print) with deep pinkish red background

Saree
The saree is an attire mostly of South Asian women, made up of a drape of five to nine yards in length and two to four feet in breadth, worn with an upper garment called choli or ravike, a blouse. Its history dates back to Indus Valley civilization. Ancient literature mentions women in exquisite drapes or saree. The variety in saree is endless including silk, cotton, ikat, block-print, tie and dye etc. in the styles of Banarasi, Kanchipuram, Paithani, Mysore, Uppada, Bhagalpuri, Chanderi, Narayanpet, Maheshwari, Patola, Pochampally, Sambalpuri, Gadwal, Jamdani, Mangalgiri, Tussar, Bandhani, Ajrakh and many more. The museum houses some Banarasi textiles like the saree and odhni.

Lady lighting lamp
1901 - 1999

A lady wearing a saree with the 'pallu' over her head, holding a burning lamp in her left hand. The lamp is ornate with a long chain attached. A golden border on the upper and lower ends with painted flower plants.

Saree
19th century

Black saree with zari lines making squares all over. Zari linear border in red on sides. Zari on red pallu with geometrical patterns and tassels at the end.

Saree
19th century

Red saree with zari lines making square patterns all over. Zari linear border on sides with four lines across. Zari pallu with geometrical pattern and tassels at the end.

Banaras silk industry

Banaras is a centre famed for its textile industry. Though it covers cotton,silk and mixed fibres, it is better known for its Zari-based silk textiles. Silk has been used since ancient times, the word used for it was ‘kausheya’. Silk was worn during religious rituals and given as gifts.

Silk fibres are obtained from silk-worms, reared on green leaves and during their breeding process cocoons are formed from which fibre is obtained.

References have been made to silk in Vedic texts, Harshacharita, Arthashastra etc. Kashi, Banaras or Varanasi was considered the source of best silk cloth and the main centre of production. The industry continued and achieved its peak during Mughal times and continues to the present day.

Banarasi textile
Early 19th century


Red Banarasi piece having zari mango designs with green silk dots all over.

Saree
19th century

This is a Banarasi doopatta having zari flower pattern in fish scale panels all over. The Zari border has zig-zag design and another one with silvery diamond shape designs in lozenge shape golden panels around against green background square patterns at the ends and turanj at the corners.

Banarasi saree
19th century

Banarasi saree having zari flower pattern in fish scale panels all over. One zari border and another one with silvery diamond shape designs in lozenge shape golden panels around, against green background. Turanj design at the corners and zg-zag designs at both ends.

Banarasi saree
19th century

Another Banarasi saree having zari flower creeper and three rows of flower patterns arranged alternately in slanting position and turanj at corners. Green border with flower creeper and another zari linear border around. Zari lozenge panels and zig-zag designs at both the ends

Banarasi saree
19th century

Dark green Banarasi saree having zari flower creeper and flower pattern in alternate slanting rows all over with turanj at corners. Border with similar designs on red background, another border with zari linear designs. Zari lozenge pattern and zig-zag designs at both the ends.

Banarasi saree
19th century

A Banarasi saree having silver flower pattern in zari lozenge panels all over. Borders with zari diamond and floral pattern against green background and zari linear designs around. Turanj designs at the corners. Zari lozenges and zig-zag designs at both the ends.

Banarasi saree
19th century

Dark red Banarasi saree with zari flower pattern in lozenge panels of flower creeper all over. The flower creepers are in slanting rows in golden and silver zari and linear design zari borders around, zari with lozenge design panels at both the ends. Turanj at the corners.

Banarasi saree
19th century

Green Banarasi saree having zari flower stalks all over with red zari border having zari lozenge panels with silvery flower pattern and zari linear borders around. Zari lozenge designs at both the ends and turanj designs at corners.

Banarasi saree
19th century

Amber colour Banarasi sari having zari disc pattern all over. Zari border on sides with design representing flower creeper and peacocks in between bands depicting flower creeper with birds. Similar designs at pallu end.

Saree
19th century

Red coloured silken saree bearing the design of trees, peacocks and elephants etc. Deep red colour background

Textile piece
19th century

Orange Banarasi cloth having zari lines making square panels with zari flower patterns all over.

Textile piece
Late 19th century

Red jamdani Banarasi having zari lozenge panels with diamond pattern all over.

Brocade
Late 19th century

Red colour brocade having flower and leaf pattern in zari, silver and green silk threads all over with zari creeper and leafy border.

Zari saree
20th century

Green zari saree. Check design contains gold coloured woven flowers. Red pallu with woven gold diamond designs in it Four turanj designs one each on four corners of the border. Woven red colour diamond designs on the border.

Zari saree
20th century

Red zari saree; green, blue, yellow and white woven on red background. Diamond designed plain woven pallu. Four turanj designs one each on four corners of the border.

Zari saree
20th century

Zari saree, red colour in the centre with diamond design on it. Seven petalled flowers in the diamonds. Plain woven with diamond designs. Four turanj designs, one each on four corners of the border.

Odhni
The 'odhni' is a light shawl or stole, which can be draped over the front or as a headcovering by women. 

Odhni (scarf)
19th century

Green colour Banarasi odhni having golden flower creeper and flower designs in alternate slanting rows with red colour border having golden flower creeper and silver zari flower designs and linear golden border. Turanj designs at corners. Golden flower designs in circular in the centre.

Odhni scarf
19th century

Odhni with each quarter of different colour i.e. purple, pink, lemon and green having flower creeper and flower silver zari patterns in alternated slanting rows with flower creeper designs, silver zari border and linear design golden border around it. Turanj designs at corners.

Kimkhab
19th century

Green kimkhab having zari fish scale panels with red and green silk flower stalk with zari outlines.

Banarasi odhni (women's head cover)
19th century

Zari Banarasi odhni having flower creeper in silver against zari background all over. Border with dot, flower creeper and zig-zag designs in gold and silver around.

Banarasi odhni (women's head cover)
19th century

Dark red Banarasi odhni having zari flower pattern in lozenge panels made by flower creeper with green border having zari lozenge panels with silvery flower pattern and linear zari border around. Turanj designs at corners.

Banarasi odhni (women's head cover)
19th century

Dark red Banarasi odhni having zari flower pattern in lozenge panels made by flower creeper with green border having zari lozenge panels with silvery flower pattern and linear zari border around. Turanj designs at corners.

Banarasi odhni (women's head cover)
19th century

Red Banarasi odhni having flower pattern in ogee panels all over with flower creeper on green background and zig-zag golden borders around. Turanj designs at corners.

Salar Jung Museum
Credits: Story

References :

Salar Jung Museum Silver Jubilee Celebrations : Souvenir,1976. Hyderabad : Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad,1976.
Dr. M . A Nayeem/ The splendour of Hyderabad, Hyderabad: Hyderabad Publishers, 2002.
Tarannum Fatma Lari/Textiles of Banaras : yesterday and today, Varanasi: Indica Books,2010.
wikipedia.org
Jamila Brij Bhushan/The costumes and textiles of India, Bombay : D. B.Taraporevala Sons & Co Pvt. Ltd.,1958

Credits :

Exhibition Script, Curation, and Compilation -
Soma Ghosh
Photography – M. Krishnamurthy and Bahadur Ali
Special thanks to - Dr. A. Nagender Reddy, Jt.Director, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad and all other staff.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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