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East & West: Kashmir & Paisley Shawls

Start Date 22 January 1988
End Date 17 June 1988
Venue Brooklyn Museum
Location New York, USA
Curator Elizabeth Ann Coleman

January 1, 1988 East and West: Kashmir and Paisley Shawls, an exhibition of 30 nineteenth- and twentieth-century shawls and garments made from shawls which were fabricated in the Kashmir area of northern India or Western Europe and the British Isles, has been selected from The Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection of such objects and will be on view in the Costume and Textile Galleries on the fourth floor from January 22 to June 17, 1988.

Despite the differences in their geographic origins, the works share a single decorative motif: the traditional teardrop form of the Mogul Indian “buta,” or cone motif, which was taken by nineteenth-century wool weavers — especially those in France and Great Britain — and worked into shawls, some of which were made into fitted garments after the shawl’s popularity began to wane in the late nineteenth century. To this day, the curvilinear teardrop form is no longer known by its country of origin but rather that of a small weaving community in Paisley, Scotland.

Notable works include a French shawl probably woven as an exhibition piece during the mid-nineteenth century and featuring a Chinoiserie fantasy world within elaborate borders. A double-face shawl woven around 1880 is one of a number of intricately pieced and embroidered shawls from India, while Paisley is represented by a traditional Scottish “kirking shawl” from a young girl’s marriage trousseau, among others.

The exhibition was selected and organized by Elizabeth Ann Coleman, the Museum’s Curator of Costumes and Textiles.