Not on view
Made of a cream-colored wool, this hooded cape, or maşlah, was acquired by Mrs. James Nevins Hyde (née Alice Louise Griswold) when she visited Baghdad on her honeymoon in 1871. The maşlah is extensively embroidered in a satin stitch which closely matches the color of the garment’s fabric. The silk tassels that decorate the hood and the front closing at both neck and hem are repeated in the tassels and ribbon motif that appears in the embroidery on either side of the front opening and at the center back. An inscription, perhaps repeating a proper name, edges the cape, with the size of the letters around the hem much larger. An inscription is also used to delineate the boundaries of the embroidered design, comprised of flower garlands forming diamond shapes surrounding a stylized and mostly illegible version of the calligraphic insignia and royal symbol of the Ottoman sultans, the tughra, and another calligraphic motif, the words maşallah, an Arabic phrase most commonly used to invoke God’s protection. Garments such as this one are rarely found in museum collections and apart from the fact that they seem to have been originally associated with Baghdad and worn mostly in the summer by urban women, little is known about them. Perhaps Mrs. Nevins Hyde purchased it to wear over an evening gown as it would have been an unusual and elegant piece of formal apparel.
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