Lady Figure Hanging, Kalaga  

Posted by ေရွးျမန္မာ in

Object - Hanging, Kalaga
Place of origin - Burma (made)
Date -late 19th century (made)
Materials and Techniques - Black woollen cloth, appliquéd with painted silk, silver spangles and silver-gilt thread.
Dimensions - Length: 173 cm Width: 109 cm Length: 136 cm (figure)
Current Location - Victoria & Albert Museum
Museum number - IS.219-1960
Credit Line - Given by Miss Eunice Frost OBE
Gallery location - In store
This is a fine example of a Burmese pictorial textile hanging known as a kalaga. The owner would have used it either as a decorative wall hanging, a room partition, or as a screen hung outside the house on festive occasions. This one is made of black woolen cloth with pink silk appliqué work with silver spangles and silver gilt thread.
It depicts a woman in the elegant costume of the Konbaung court of the late 19th century. She wears multiple necklaces, jewelled ear-tubes, bracelets and rings, and her hair is dressed in a jeweled coil on top of her head. She displays the classic, almost crescent-shaped, maha-naphoo (royal forehead), which was the height of fashion at the Mandalay court during the time of King Thibaw (r. 1878-1885). After the annexation of Upper Burma by the British in 1885 and the exile of the Burmese royal family, the style was adopted by dancers and the newly rich until about 1900.

The extravagant style of kalagas appealed to Burmese and Europeans alike and their popularity soared in the mid 19th century. This one is likely to have been made especially for the European market in Burma.

Physical description
A standing female figure holding a cheroot. Dressed in the style of a court lady of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885) Mandalay Court ca. 1880. It consists of three main elements - a hta-mein (the lower wrap around garment) which is made up of a central panel of an acheik-luntaya design, a waist band of faded pink finishing in a train of faded pink; a floral patterned checkered yinzi (the breast cloth) and a tightly fitting checked ein-gyi (jacket) with flaring khar-taung (waist-wings) and kalama-no (lapets). These are worn with open sandals. The lady's hair is dressed in a jewelled coil on top of her head falling in a long piece over her right should and she wears multiple necklaces, jewelled ear-tubes, bracelets and rings.

On black woollen cloth the acheik patterns on her silk hta-mein are of painted pink silk applique work with silver spangles and silver gilt thread. The ein-gyi is embroidered in applique in a check pattern of flower heads and leafy sprigs and the pink silk yinzi is checkered with four petaled flower heads. The features of her face, neck and hands are painted in black ink on white cloth.

Descriptive line
Embroidered Burmese kalaga (hanging) of woollen cloth with an applique design representing a lady of the Mandalay Court ca. 1880, of coloured textiles (partly painted), imitation jewels, silver gilt thread and sequins. ca. late 19th century.
Historical significance
This portrait of an elegantly dressed lady displays the classic almost crescent-shaped maha-naphoo (royal forehead) which was the height of fashion at the Mandalay court during the time of Thibaw Min (r. 1878-1885). It was then adopted by dancers and the nouveaux riches until about 1900. The effect was obtained by painting the hairline black. Inf. Noel F. Singer June 2002

This entry was posted on Apr 9, 2010 at Friday, April 09, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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