This child's coat is tailored in late nineteenth-century style, but the fabric was probably woven earlier, in the late eighteenth century. This kind of textile is unique to Kashmir, where for decades families in the trade had spun, dyed, designed, and woven textiles for the emperors. A number of inscribed textiles of similar patterning and construction are known to have been made in Amritsar, and so this fabric is also assumed to have come from there.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Date:late 19th century
Geography:Attributed to India, Punjab or Kashmir, Amritsar
Dimensions:Coat: H. 28 5/8 in (72.7 cm) W. 21 5/16 in. (54.1 cm)
Credit Line:The Alice and Nasli Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Alice Heeramaneck, 1983
India has a long and rich history of male costume. Mughal and Deccani illustrated manuscripts and album pages provide examples such as the sleeved coat with flared skirt; later, in the nineteenth century, the assimilation of British clothing styles added fitted jackets and coats to the repertory of Indian costume. Conforming to the Western silhouette, these coats are more tailored than the earlier traditional outer garment for men. This coat, made for a boy, is one such example.
The rows of buttons and buttonholes here represent a marked change in Indian clothing. Additionally, in contrast to the tradition of flat, square sleeves attached to the main body, the sleeves of this coat were attached to round armholes with the aid of a sewing machine—an invention that significantly altered the style of Indian clothes. The Western-looking collar and attached pockets of the coat represent further developments in Indian dress, and the entire garment is carefully lined with fabric made from silk and cotton.
The innovative style and method of the tailoring have been combined with a traditional weaving method. Employing the double interlocking twill tapestry technique, the weaver has filled the light yellow ground with stems bearing European-style vine leaves and grapes. Kashmir was famous for the production of this type of textile. However, during the 1830s, hardships and severe taxation led Kashmiri weavers to leave the country for settlements in the neighboring Punjab Hills. Their emigration might explain why the same type of textile was also made in Amritsar in the Punjab by Kashmiri craftsmen. Men’s coats in a similar style with the same kind of fabrics are in the collections of the Museum der Kulturen, Basel, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Yumiko Kamada in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. Kumar, Ritu. Costumes and Textiles of Royal India. London, 1999, p. 201.
4. Mikosch, Elisabeth. “The Scent of Flowers: Kashmir Shawls in the Collection of The Textile Museum.” Textile Museum Journal 24 (1985), p. 8.
5. India: Art and Culture, 1300–1900. Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Catalogue by Stuart Cary Welch. New York, 1985, p. 445.
6. Nabholz-Kartaschoff, Marie-Louise. Golden Sprays and Scarlet Flowers: Traditional Indian Textiles from The Museum of Ethnography, Basel, Switzerland/Indo no dentō senshoku: Suisu/Bāzeru Minzokugaku Hakubutsukan zō. Museum für Völkerkunde und Schweizerisches Museum für Volkskunde, Basel. Kyoto, 1986, p. 24; Dye, Joseph M., III. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, 2001, p. 463, no. 222.
Coming upon this lyrical coat, nostalgic as dried flowers in a book of verse, brings to mind some beguiling child taking the air with his ayah and bearer. Was he a princeling, the son of a rich merchant, or a toddling British administrator-to-be? By 1890 or 1900, Indian society had so changed that "royal" costumery was no longer limited to royalty. The spring-fresh cloth, a courtly flower garden that survived the defoliation of the Mughal empire, has leaves reminiscent of those in Jahangir's Squirrels in a Plane Tree (The British Library, India Office Library and Records, London [Johnson Album 1, no. 30], no. 141 in this volume). Although the coat is tailored in late nineteenth-century style, the fabric was probably woven earlier, in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, by the same Kashmiri families who had spun, dyed, designed, and woven textiles for the emperors. Inscribed textiles of comparable design and technique were also made in Amritsar by Kashmiri craftsmen.
Alice N. Heeramaneck, New York (until 1983; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "INDIA !," September 14–September 14, 1985, no. 295.
New York. The Hagop Kevorkian Special Exhibitions Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making the Invisible Visible," April 2–August 4, 2013, no catalogue.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Oriental Gardens," April 18, 2016–September 25, 2016, no. 116.
Welch, Stuart Cary. India: Art and Culture 1300–1900. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. no. 295, pp. 444–45, ill. (b/w).
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. 284, pp. 8, 399–400, ill. p. 399 (color).
Institut du Monde Arabe. "De l'Alhambra au Taj Mahal." In Jardins d'Orient. Paris: Editions Snoeck, 2016. no. 116, p. 206.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.
The Met's collection of Islamic art is one of the most comprehensive in the world and ranges in date from the seventh to the twenty-first century. Its more than 15,000 objects reflect the great diversity and range of the cultural traditions from Spain to Indonesia.