India, Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh
Cotton; plain weave, appliquéd and embroidered
H. 183 in. (464.8 cm)
W. 73 in. (185.4 cm)
Purchase, Rogers Fund, Anonymous Gift, in honor of W. G. and Mildred Archer, and Carolyn Kane Gift, 1986
Not on view
This textile is an offering from the tomb of Saint Salar Mas'ud, a nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni who was slain in battle in 1033 or 1034. By 1325, a cult had evolved around his tomb. When the saint's anniversary is celebrated, offerings of flags are made in honor of his flagstaff, one of the shrine's relics. During the celebration, the flag is also known as a kanduri, or tablecloth, because of the offerings of food and incense made to it. After the initial offering has been ceremonially buried, the rest is distributed on the new cloths brought by the devotees. People suffering from leg trouble make pilgrimages to Salar Mas'ud, and when they are healed they make little horses of wheat flour boiled in syrup called khule ghore (frisky horses)–like those embroidered here–which are blessed with the Fatiha and then distributed. Ordinarily kanduris are deeply stained by food and singed by incense; this piece is particularly well preserved.
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