Wrapper with exotic fruits and flowers - ROM2009_11158_1


Wrapper with exotic fruits and flowers

Medium:Painted, mordant- and resist-dyed cotton tabby
Geography: Made in India for the Sulawesi, Indonesian market; used in Celebes (Island)
Date: 1720-1750
323 x 101 cm
Object number: 2008.81.1
Credit Line: This acquisition was made possible with the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust.
Not on view

This wrapper with five repeats of exotic fruits and flowers was made on the Coromandel Coast of India for the Sulawesi market. Long before Indian cotton chintz ever reached Europe, it was wildly popular throughout Asia. In Indonesia, it was the major form of currency used by foreign traders to acquire the islands’ precious spices. Imported Indian cloths became sacred heirlooms used in local rituals.

The design shows strong European influence but was clearly not made for a western market as its scale, muddy ground and size demonstrate. The flowers are reserved in white by use of a resist, and further details are added by hand. In this textile there is very little of the plain ground left white, a taste that was more prized in European markets.

In Europe the fashionable silks of the late 17th and early 18th century were produced in the so-called Bizarre Silk style typified by large-scale, asymmetric exotic patterns. By the 1720s more delicate symmetrical patterns were introduced with a trend towards naturalism. This Sulawesi textile pattern shows the end of the Bizarrre style but could never be mistaken for a design for European taste.

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