Indo Portuguese Embroidery
Indo Portuguese Embroidery
Indo Portuguese Embroidery
Indo Portuguese Embroidery

Indo Portuguese Embroidery
First half 17th c

A piece (B) from a colcha (coverlet or quilt) is a fine example of this type of embroidery produced in Satgaon, the mercantile capital of Bengal, from the mid-16th to the mid-17th century. The cotton fabrics are embroidered with Tussar silk, which is naturally yellow-coloured, and grows wild in Eastern India. Coverlets were at first only used as diplomatic gifts or souvenirs for wealthy travellers, the commercial opportunity of selling colchas to wealthy Europeans was soon capitalised on by Portuguese traders, and many colchas were commissioned by them for their domestic market (Karl, op. cit. p. 439). Since design ideas for these embroideries would be supplied by the merchants, the colchas often portray a fascinating mix of western and eastern motifs, and frequently combine both mythological and Biblical iconography.





The border  section of tussar silk with delightful repeating design of alternating pairs of rabbits? and birds flanking branches of flowering shrubs, all in back stitch on a natural cotton ground, the main field with a repeating star design 2 14 in; 6 cm diameter amongst smaller stars, the edge with a needlelace trim.

17 x 51/2 -7 in; 43 x 14 -18 cm


Very good.


Comparable museum examples of these Portuguese commissioned Indian produced Colchas, of this design type and period can be found in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon (no. 3692 & no. 3413), the British Museum, London (no. 2000,1213,0.1), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1970.173, 1975.4 & 34.104.1), and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, (T20e4), which is an example with comparable motifs albeit in white on a blue ground.

Embroidered Histories: Indian Textiles for the Portuguese Market during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries by Barbara Karl (2016)

J. Irwin, Indo-Portuguese Embroideries of Bengal. Art and letters. Journal of the Royal India, Pakistan and Ceylon Society. Vol. XXVI, No. 2, 1952, pp. 65-73; M. J. de Mendonca, Embroidered quilts from the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga Lisboa, exh. cat. Kensington Palace, London, 1978, no. 6; B. Karl, The Narrative Scheme of a Bengal Colcha Dating from the Early 17th Century Commissioned by the Portuguese, Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2006, pp. 438-448; R. Crill, 'The earliest survivors? The Indian embroideries at Hardwick Hall', in R. Crill, (ed.), Textiles from India: the Global Trade. Calcutta, 2006, pp.245-260; T. P. Pereira and C. Serrano, Indian embroideries for the Portuguese market, end of 16th century/beginning of 17th century, The Textile Collection of the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, 2007; A. Peck (ed.) Interwoven Globe, The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013

L' étoffe du relief. Quilts, boutis et autres textiles matelassés by Alexandre Fiette p 38/9.



Price: £200 | $250 | €230

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