Palampore (textile panel) - ROM2009_10551_1


Palampore (textile panel)

Medium:Chintz: cotton tabby, painted mordants, resist and dyes, gold leaf
Geography: Coastal southeast India, for the Western market
Date: around 1720-1740
365.6 × 256.4 cm
Object number: 934.4.13
Credit Line: Harry Wearne Collection, Gift of Mrs. Harry Wearne
On view
Gallery Location:CC516-A.01.003

Indo-European palampores constitute one of the most articulate expressions of hybrid design in the early modern period. The colors of red, violet, blue, yellow and black are used to depict a serpentine tree with exposed roots and scroll-patterned trunk rising from a scaled mound. The design uses both large fanciful flowers and smaller sprays with peacocks and spiky shrubs flanking the base. The piece is edged with a blue strip that has a faintly visible telugu inscription on it, a language from South India. The border pattern shows vases overflowing with interconnected branches and flowers. The flowering tree motif on most palampores is a hybrid design of Persian, European, Indian, and Chinese visual traditions based on the “tree of life.” The style developed in the seventeenth century based on Indian painted and dyed textiles called kalamkari but was suited to European tastes. The imported Indian painted cottons, with their brilliant fast colors, were a striking contrast to contemporary European fabrics. Cotton was a welcome and colourful change from the linen and wool fabrics that dominated Europe. These colourfast cotton fabrics became very popular in Europe and the palampores, or panels with flowering tree designs, were used as wall and bed hangings, or fashioned into coverlets. The growing demand for Indian painted cotton in the third quarter of the seventeenth century played an important role in the development of the European textile printing industry.

This luxury wall hanging exhibits the special qualities that sparked desire around the world, a range of bright and durable colours, intricate details, plants and animals that mix realism and whimsy, and gold finishing to sparkle in candlelight and communicate wealth and standing. [Detail 1:] Birds are popular motifs for Indian chintz, notably the Indian Peafowl Pavo cristaus (male peacock, female peahen), native to India. This bird has significance to many world religions. Each of the peafowl’s six colours required unique dye ingredients. [Detail 2:] Chintz painters often place realistic-looking and fanciful flowers side-by-side. They play with the scale, colour, and perspective of plants, sometimes combining un-related plant parts – creating something fanciful yet familiar. [Detail 3:] Master chintz painters created intricate details in white on this rocky mound, by painting them in wax before soaking the piece in dye baths. These extraordinary details include tiny geometric shapes and fine-leaved plants, perhaps inspired by coriander, seaweed, and cedar.

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