A palampore in the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada, is executed using the same stencil (934.4.11). It is dated to the first half of the 18th century and is published by John Irwin and Katharine B. Brett in Origins of Chintz, London, 1970, cat.26, pl.22, p.76. Both are decorated with peacocks, two ‘crowned’ lions, sheep, rabbits, ducks and other fauna. There are pairs of human figures in late 17th or early 18th century European costume. Irwin and Brett note that this is ‘an unusual version of the flowering-tree design [as the] main features, such as the very decorative use of palm tree heads as flowers and the elaborate sprays of foliage, are not found in other chintzes’.
The blossoming tree became one of the most popular designs for chintz textiles exported to Europe throughout the 18th century and into the 19th century. These exquisite painted textiles were first imported to countries such as England for use as bed and wall-hangings and quickly migrated to many other types of furnishings and clothing. The blossoming tree of the classic palampore is in fact a fascinating hybrid created for the delectation of the western market by European textile traders and would have born very little resemblance to the textiles produced for the indigenous Indian market. There is a clear influence of English Elizabethan and Jacobean crewel-work, which were in turn heavily indebted to the designs of late 16th and early 17th century Flemish verdure tapestries and these elements combined with the hybrid flowering tree led to the iconic palampore design. The tree and the rocky mound or landscape around it are a synthesis of Persian and Chinese elements.
Two fine palampore fragments sold at Christie’s South Kensington, 11 October 2013, lot 620 and 12 June 2014, lot 93.