Coat: H. 28 5/8 in (72.7 cm) W. 21 5/16 in. (54.1 cm)
The Alice and Nasli Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Alice Heeramaneck, 1983
Not on view
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.
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.
Alice N. Heeramaneck, New York (until 1983; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "INDIA !," September 14, 1985, no. 295.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making the Invisible Visible," April 2, 2013–August 4, 2013, no catalogue.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Oriental Gardens," April 18, 2016–September 25, 2016, no. 116.
Welch, Stuart Cary. "Art and Culture 1300–1900." In India!. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. no. 295, pp. 444-445, ill. p. 444 (b/w).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. 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.