Exhibition of Indian Kashmir shawls and silver tableware

Kashmir shawls and silver tableware produced in India during the colonial period in XVIII and XIX centuries will be displayed at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum through August 27 to January 29. The exhibition «Silver and Shawls: India, Europe and the Colonial Art Market» will feature about thirty pieces of silver and eleven shawls. The objects on show were created at a time when foreign demand for Indian textiles and luxury goods was at its peak.

Jewelers and goldsmiths from Britain started working in Madras, Bombay, Calcutta and elsewhere in India. By the late 1700s, they expanded their production to silver tableware based on European forms but redesigned to accommodate local styles of cooking and serving. In XIX century, many silversmiths began to employ Indian craftsmen. During the mid to late 1800s, those smiths began to embellish European-style objects with local designs. This hybrid style became popular after it was displayed in the Indian section of the Great Exhibition of London in 1851.

One famous workshop represented in the exhibition was that of Peter Orr & Sons, founded in Madras in 1851 by Peter Nicholas Orr, a watchmaker from London. One of the largest and most successful silver manufacturers in India, the Orr workshop produced tableware and gold, gilt and silver, «swami» jewelry populated with Indian deities and exotic scenes.

Visitors will see several pieces made by Peter Orr & Sons, including an oval tray with serpent border created in 1904 for presentation to a captain in the Ooregum Gold Mining Company of India; a «swami-style» gold necklace and earrings, and an engraved circular racing trophy from 1884 that is an exact copy of a gold dish given to the Prince of Wales on his visit to India in 1875 and 1876.

Among the textiles on display in «Silver and Shawls» will be a fragment of a twill tapestry-woven pashmina shawl made in Kashmir circa 1810 to 1815; an 1810 painting by Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) portraying Abu’l Hassan, the Persian ambassador to the Court of St. James in 1890-1910, wearing a Kashmir shawl wrapped around his head as a turban, an open field white shawl dating 1805, which features the «buta» (flower) design.

Published in: on August 25, 2005 at 5:14 am  Leave a Comment  

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