Sunday, 23 August 2009
PALAMPORES, MEZZARAS AND SHAWLS
You could write pages on any one of these lovely textiles, wall hangings, bedcovers, shawls and clothing. I have long had a pair of curtains in my dining room (see earlier Post titles: Heavenly Curtains and knew they were from a famous firm of French cloth manufacturers, Braquenie, whose printing blocks and designs had been bought some time ago by Pierre Frey. They are copies of an antique design called Le Grand de Genne.(Genoa.) It is well known that the Italians there copied some of the palampores from India, mid 19c. and they were worn as shawls by ladies over their crinoline dresses for warmth and protection - These were called mezzaras and are very desirable in good condition. The palimpores were produced on the Indian Coromandel Coast from the 16th C. in an unbelievably complicated process, then called chintz, i.e. painted cloth. The different colours were applied by hand with a little pointed bamboo stick with a small reservoir, or by hand-applied carved or etched blocks and there were endless treatments of dyes, mordants, waxing, washing, bleaching etc. till the design reached its completion - often more than 8' square and occasionally done in pairs, usually on very fine, smoothly woven Indian cotton which could be painted with great accuracy. See the new reference book Chintz, (detailed illustrations and many facts) by Rosemary Crill, of the V.and A. Museum, out this year. More later!