This type of dyed cloth, known as a palampore from the Hindi term for a bed cover, palangposh, was made in abundance in India for the European market in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The size of the palampores conformed to bed sizes in Europe, and their decoration, often with a central tree laden with fruits and birds, combined elements from English embroideries, Chinese decorative objects, and Indian textiles. Lengths of such fabric also hung on the walls of the bedrooms, which were often decorated with Chinese porcelains and other Eastern exotica.
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Title:Bed Cover (Palampore)
Geography:Attributed to India, Coromandel Coast
Medium:Cotton; plain weave, mordant painted and dyed, resist-dyed
Dimensions:Textile: H. 107 in. (271.8 cm) W. 77 3/4 in. (197.5 cm) Mount: H. 117 1/2 in. (298.5 cm) W. 86 5/8 in. (220 cm) D. 2in. (5.1 cm)
Classification:Textiles-Painted and/or Printed
Credit Line:Purchase, Bequest of George Blumenthal and Gift of Indjoudjian Freres, by exchange, and The Friends of the Islamic Department Fund, 1982
At the center of this rectangular panel, a tree growing from a mound is divided into thirteen segments, each framing a flowering plant. Each of the large flowers hanging from the twisting branches of the tree seems to represent a different species. In each corner of the border is a blue vase sprouting two branches that have tendrils, serrated leaves, and pink flowers with blue centers. This type of dyed cotton cloth, known as a palampore from the Hindi term for “bedcover,” was produced by the hundreds in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for the European market. Its size and format conformed to tastes and bed sizes in Europe, and the decoration combined patterns from English embroidery, Chinese decorative objects, and Indian textiles, also transformed to suit the intended market. The particularly ripe depiction of the flowers on the Museum’s example, the sense of movement in the serrated leaves, and the bold color contrasts throughout are unique attributes and make it an exemplary illustration of the type.
Marika Sardar in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. See the Garrick bed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (no. W.70-1916), for instance, for the display of such cloths as they were used in the eighteenth century.
2. The central motif on these palampores is often called the “tree of life,” but it was first shown by John Irwin and Katharine Brett to be a composite of many sources (Irwin, John, and Katharine B. Brett. Origins of Chintz, with a Catalogue of Indo-European Cotton-Paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. London, 1970, pp. 16–21).
[ Cora Ginsburg, Tarrytown, NY, until 1982; sold to MMA]
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Priscilla P. Soucek, Sheila R. Canby, and Navina Haidar, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 281, pp. 341, 396–97, ill. p. 396 (color).
Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Symposia." In Sultans of the South: Art of India's Deccan Courts. Brugge, Belgium: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. Back cover, p. 138, ill. fig. 7.
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