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    Sale 7586

    West ~ East - The Niall Hobhouse Collection

    22 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 316

    Sikh artist, circa 1867

    Washermen at work

    Price Realised  


    Sikh artist, circa 1867
    Washermen at work
    pencil, pen and black and brown ink and watercolour and bodycolour
    12 x 15 7/8 in. (30.5 x 40.4 cm.)

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    This watercolour depicts Kashmir shawls being washed by the river bank, most probably the River Jhelum in Srinager, located in the heart of the Kashmir valley. Some hang on a line, whilst others are being beaten on stones or wrung out. A washerman treads a soap solution in a bowl, presumably working up a lather to clean the white parts of the shawl, plain water only being applied to coloured areas. Baden Powell notes that 'the process of washing the shawls, which is quite an art in itself, is always better done in Kashmir' (i.e. than in the Punjab). Shawl operatives believed that the waters of the River Jhelum held special properties that accounted for the superiority of Srinagar shawls to those made elsewhere.

    For another example of washermen at work see the exhibition catalogue Kashmir Shawls, op. cit, no. 7.

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    London, Kyburg limited, Kashmir Shawls: Women Art & Cultural Document/A unique collection of Indian drawings illustrating the production of Kashmir shawls, commissioned for the 1867 Paris Exposition, 7 June - 24 June 1988, exhibition catalogue.