Friday, April 01, 2011

A Wonderful Victorian Beaded Crinoline Shawl

I'm about to list this wonderful Victorian 'crinoline' shawl in my eBay shop, The Scottish Home, but it's been a joy to have it in my possession for a little while - and yet again a learning experience for somebody with an interest in textiles. It's a huge shawl, but the pattern is designed to be folded in half, and then made into a triangle, so that it looks lovely when worn and the two areas of dense embroidery and beading show up to best advantage. (For some reason, the fringe doesn't quite fit in with this, or perhaps I'm folding it wrongly!)
The fabric is fine, soft wool, dense black, although it looks a little grey in these pictures. The embroidery is exquisite, and looks like the fine Chinese embroidery you get on those wonderful Cantonese shawls, which may well be the case - perhaps made for the export market. And among the embroidery is lots of beautiful black beading, jet beads? That's what they look like, but I can't be sure.
I assumed at first that this was a 'mourning' shawl, since the Victorians wore their mourning for a very long time after bereavement - but in fact, black itself was fashionable in Victorian times, so this may simply have been viewed as the very classy and expensive shawl it undoubtedly is. The fashion for black in part originated with Queen Victoria who spent most of her long life in mourning for poor Albert, but the knock on effect of this was that ladies wanted to imitate her!
This is a beautiful textile though and -  apart from a small scattering of moth holes in one little area - it is in almost perfect condition. You could wear it on any fashionable evening occasion and guarantee that nobody else will have one like it!

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