Silver and Shawls: India, Europe, and the Colonial Art Market

, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums
  • Cashmere Textile

    Cashmere Textile

  • "Swami-style" Necklace

    Linked openwork, 11 teardrop-shaped links on top, 9 on bottom; pendant oval with relief of goddess and snakes, also goddess on clasp. Depicts two standing frontal figures and peacock; Kumara, one of Shiva's sons mounted on a peacock (right of centre) with attendant figures.

  • Rosewater Sprinkler (Gulabpash/Gulabdani)

    Rosewater Sprinkler (Gulabpash/Gulabdani)

    The silver rosewater sprinkler has a bulbous body, a long, tapering spout with floral scrollwork, and a blooming, flower-shaped finial. The floral nozzle has five piercings from which rosewater can be sprinkled. The body, which would have contained the rosewater, is decorated with floral designs set within a medallion of leaves. The major centers in India for silver-work were Bombay, Calcutta, Cutch, Kashmir, Lucknow, and Madras. Stylistically, this sprinkler can be attributed to Bhuj, in Cutch (now Kutch), Gujarat. The base contains an illegible inscription which probably gives the name of the workshop where the object was created. The numeral "four" is inscribed in Devanagari script, which may be an indication of its date, or a production number.

  • Pair of Swami-style Earrings

    Pair of Swami-style Earrings

    Two linked gold plated metal squares with bead fringe. Relief decoration of two four-handed icon figures seated in yogic posture.

  • Mirza Abu'l Hassan Khan

    Mirza Abu'l Hassan Khan

  • Cashmere Textile
  • Rosewater Sprinkler (Gulabpash/Gulabdani)
  • Pair of Swami-style Earrings
  • Mirza Abu'l Hassan Khan
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums

This exhibition of over 40 objects highlights the evolution of shawls and silver table wares produced in India during the colonial period, mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries. That era witnessed the greatest expansion of the international market for Indian textiles and other luxury goods. The exhibition focuses on two opposing stylistic developments: shawl design evolved from traditional Indian compositions and decoration to patterns that responded to European tastes, while Indian silver production grew from small studios of foreign artisans producing restrained, Georgian-style objects into a large industry employing local artists and incorporating imagery native to South Asia.

Organized by Kimberly Masteller, Assistant Curator, Islamic and Later Indian Art, Arthur M. Sackler Museum; and Jeffrey B. Spurr, Islamic and Middle East Specialist, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. A brochure accompanies the exhibition.

This exhibition has been funded by Melvin R. Seiden, the Eric Schroeder Fund, and the Arthur Urbane Dilley 1897 and Theron Johnson Damon 1905 Fund for Islamic Art and Culture.