This bed-roll made for an Indian princely family is a feat of great technical skill. With the exception of the thin copper strips running through it, it is entirely fashioned from interwoven silver-thread. The silver-thread has been laid in strips which are sufficiently thin to be flexible. The cooling effect of the silver thread would have been a luxury afforded by Indian Royalty.
Contemporary accounts of such items are few. Though she does not directly refer to a silver mat such as this, Fanny Parkes in the glossary to her Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque: During Four-and-twenty years in the East; with Revelations of Life in the Zenana, (London, 1850) lists a sitalpati as 'a fine and cool mat' (ibid, p. xxxiv). In February 1835 she was invited to the wedding of Colonel Gardner's son and the neice of Emperor Akbar Shah, Nuwab Mulka Humanee Begam. On meeting the Begam she described how 'in the centre of the room a carpet was spread, and upon that the gaddi [the throne of the sovereign, a long round pillow] and pillows for the Begam ... they are placed upon a small carpet of velvet, or of kimkhwab (cloth of gold)' (ibid, p. 383).
Three other bed-rolls or rugs of this type are known to exist. One is solid ivory, save for the outer border, while the other is solid silver, made from much thicker strips of metal than are encountered here. The third, an ivory and silver flatwoven example of virtually the same dimensions, was sold Christie's London, 14 October 1997, lot 371a.