Hanging, Cotton; plain weave, appliquéd and embroidered


ca. 1900
Attributed to India, Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh
Cotton; plain weave, appliquéd and embroidered
H. 183 in. (464.8 cm)
W. 73 in. (185.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund, Anonymous Gift, in honor of W. G. and Mildred Archer, and Carolyn Kane Gift, 1986
Accession Number:
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.
Michael Archerand Margaret Lecomber, London (since early 1930s); W. G. and Mildred Archer, London (until 1986; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "INDIA !," September 14, 1985, no. 56.

Jayakar, Pupul, and John Irwin. Textiles and Ornaments of India : a Selection of Designs, edited by Monroe Wheeler. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1956. p. 28, ill., (detail in color).

Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968. no. 195, p. 74, ill. pl. XL.

Welch, Stuart Cary. "Art and Culture 1300–1900." In India!. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. no. 56, pp. 102-104, ill. p. 102 (color).