Chair: early 20th Century

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Swat is a mountainous district of northern Pakistan. Traditionally, woodworkers were held in great esteem in Swat, and intricately carved motifs adorned a wide range of wooden objects; from stately mosque columns to everyday tools and utensils. The carved backrest of this low chair bears a number of motifs typically found in the Swat Valley. The small […]

Lion vahana, mount of Goddess Durga

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Polychrome wooden sculpture, 20th century, Tamil Nadu, India  We have just given this lion pride of place in the South Asia Collection. He has been relocated from the rear of the gallery to the very first display case by the entrance. Situated just below a newly installed welcome sign, our friendly lion waits to greet […]

Moh nei: Naga body cloth

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Nagaland has a strong warrior tradition and headhunting was a significant part of its culture for many years. Strict rules surrounded the practice of headhunting. For example, heads would only be removed from the body after death. By taking the heads of their enemies Naga warriors could provide evidence of their victory, but they also believed […]

Sahaj – Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat

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A brand new book from the collaborative Vernacular Furniture of N-W India project, Sahaj: Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat, the first book of its kind. Co-authored by our Collection Curator, Ben Cartwright, alongside Mitraja Bais, Jay Thakkar and Samrudha Dixit.   The Gujarati term Sahaj can mean either ‘inherent’ or ‘intrinsic’, and this book introduces the vernacular furniture that is inherent to, and still is made and used throughout Gujarat:   Sahaj contains 398 […]

The Courtyard, Afghanistan, By Nancy Jane Burton. 1930s

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This courtyard scene was painted by the Scottish watercolour artist Nancy Jane Burton, who travelled widely through Kashmir, Pakistan (which would have been northern India in the period Nancy was there, before Independence) and Afghanistan between 1932 and 1936. This painting is currently on display as part of the new exhibition, Nancy Jane Burton: Watercolours from […]

Jumlo, from Indus Kohistan, Pakistan, c1950

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This woman’s dress or jumlo is made from a woven black cotton fabric and is finely embroidered with silk threads. It is constructed from three main parts: a bodice, long wide sleeves and a full skirt comprised of numerous triangular inserts of cloth, known as godets. Symmetry is an important element in the design and jumlos are elaborately adorned with buttons, beads and coins. This particular […]

Lithograph, Ancient Temple by Mrs H Clark

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The Object of the Month for June 2018 is the tinted lithograph, Ancient Temple, Pundruttun, by Mrs H. Clark, which is currently on display at The South Asia Collection. It was printed by J. Needham on behalf of Day & Son as part of a set of twelve prints entitled: Summer Scenes in Kashmeer. Although we have some information about this print, the identity […]

Persian Kalamkari

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Kalamkaris originated in Persia (present day Iran) where qalam meant pen and kari meant craftwork. Originally the design was hand drawn onto the cotton cloth using a bamboo pen. But during the 19th century when demand and exports increased, block printing techniques became widely used. Often a combination of block printing and penwork was incorporated into kalamkari production. This example, dating from the late 19th century, […]