Sunday, September 11, 2011

Absolutely Gorgeous Printed Silk Gauze Paisley Shawl

I could hardly believe it, when I saw this amazing shawl hanging up in the saleroom. It's a printed paisley shawl in finest silk gauze, as light as a feather and probably dating from the 1840s or 50s. It's very very long, with the colours as fresh and warm as the day it was made,  and clearly designed to be worn over a crinoline, but probably for evening wear. There's no warmth in it, only great beauty. The lady who wore it must have considered herself fortunate to possess such a fabulously beautiful item. I hope it was a gift from somebody she loved! These are rare items. They come along once in a blue moon, for the simple reason that they are so fragile, so featherlight, that they didn't often survive. This one has a few - but only a few - faults - a few places where the silk has worn a little thin, where the slight weight of the fringe has tugged at the fragile silk threads, but to be honest, these are small matters. It's the kind of textile that gives your heart a little lift when you see it - the kind of textile that makes the whole business of trying to source and rehome these wonderful old things, so often women's things, as I point out in my novel, The Curiosity Cabinet, so very much worth while! Gathering this up gently, touching it, is like touching a little bit of the past.

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