Man's Robe (Jama) with Poppies, Cotton; painted, with applied gold leaf

Man's Robe (Jama) with Poppies

Object Name:
17th century
Attributed to India, Deccan, Burhanpur or Hyderabad
Cotton; painted, with applied gold leaf
Robe: L. 55 in. (139.7 cm)
W. 80 in. (203.2 cm)
Case: L. 78 in. (198.1 cm)
W. 36 in. (91.4 cm)
D. 36 in. (91.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1929
Accession Number:
Not on view
This man’s robe, called a jama, is decorated with delicate pink flowers painted individually by hand and outlined in gold leaf. Gold leaf is also lavished on the collar and lappets which tie at the side of the chest. As seen in contemporary portraits, this type of garment was worn at courts throughout India, calf-length in the seventeenth century and ankle-length in the eighteenth century, but the painstaking method of painting the design on the cloth associate this robe with the Deccan, in central India.

The production of cotton textiles at Burhanpur included not only dyed cottons but also painted fabrics like the one used to make this eighteenth-century robe. The pink poppies were created using a method more akin to painting on paper than the resist- and mordant-dyeing process employed to produce kalamkaris. First, the decoration was painted onto the fabric with pigments and gold leaf combined with adhesive, after which the surface of the textile was covered with starch and burnished. Silk bands now form the robe’s underarm ties and define the hem, wrists, and collar. These seem to have been added when the garment was retailored to fit a new owner, and probably replaced elements that had become worn.[1]

While the robe is quite Mughal in design and tailoring, its provenance connects it to the Deccan.[2] It is also similar to a robe in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which is said to have come from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad.[3] Furthermore, the pattern of the fabric and style of the robe match those of garments depicted in northern Deccani paintings of the late seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century, the period of Mughal rule in the region.[4] The extralong sleeves, worn bunched at the wrists, and the full skirt, which reaches the ankles, are the most notable features of this robe style.

Marika Sardar in (Haidar and Sardar 2015)


1- Observations made by conservator Nobuko Kajitani. See Kajitani, Nobuko, "A Retrospective of 1973 Conservation Treatment on a Mughal Court Robe with the Pigment-Painted Poppy Flower Pattern" In The Conservation of 18th-Century Painted Silk Dress, edited by Chris Paulocik and Sean Flaherty, pp. 118-29. New York: The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Graduate Program in Costume Studies, New York University.

2- The dealer who sold this jama to the Metropolitan Museum stated that it came from Warangal; Imre Schwaiger, invoice, October 21, 1929, curatorial files, Department of Islamic Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

3- Victoria and Albert Museum (IM.312-1921).

4- For example, see Abdul Ghaffar Khan Bahadur (Zebrowski, Mark "Deccani Painting". London: Sotheby’s; Berkeley: University of California Press 1983, p. 210, ill. no. 181); Muslim Nobleman Smoking on a Verandah (ibid.,, p. 219, ill. no. 190); or Allah-wirdi Khan Receiving a Petition (ibid., p. 236, ill. no. 209).
[ Imre Schwaiger, London, until 1929; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Indian Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 18, 1973–April 1, 1973, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy," April 20, 2015–July 26, 2015, no. 182.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Guide to an Exhibition of Oriental Rugs and Textiles. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1935. p. 34, ill. fig. 28 (b/w).

Ettinghausen, Richard. "Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 1975). ill. p. 44 (color).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 146-47, ill. fig. 112 (color).

Calza, Gian Carlo. "The Great Emperor of India." In Akbar. Milan: Skira, 2012. pp. 74-75, ill. fig. 42 (color).

Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "Opulence and Fantasy." In Sultans of Deccan India 1500–1700. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. no. 182, p. 306, ill. pl. 182 (color).