Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Folds of Cloth, Appliqued, Flowered, Pegged: The Shamiana Mughal Tent

Shamiana is a ceremonial tent richly decorated with hangings, used by the Moghal and Rajput courts as they travelled around the country. They are traditionally made with textile techniques as Appliqué - the technique of applying one piece of fabric to a ground cloth by means of stitching. Shapes and motifs can be attached with an ordinary sewing thread, or by some type of embroidery stitch that is both functional and decorative.

Indeed, the Mughal Empire in India raised the art of the tent to new levels of splendor: Timur's 12-pole tent described by Clavijo was far surpassed by Humayun's Zodiac Tent, in which the 12 signs were worked in precious stones, and by Akbar's vast and carefully planned tent-palace. The window of the tent of Nur Jehan, favorite wife of Jahangir, the fourth Mughal emperor, was screened with a gold medallion set with pearls and gems and golden bars or chains.

Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo was the Spanish ambassador to the court of the Mongol emperor Timur in Samarkand from 1403 to 1406. His description of Timur’s tents is corroborated by the miniature paintings of the period.

Nearby this awning where we were seated stood a very large high pavilion, in fact a very huge tent, and it was four-square in shape. In height it was the measure of three long lances such as used by a horse soldier, and the side was a hundred paces from angle to angle, it being as said four-cornered. The ceiling of the pavilion was made circular to form a dome, and the poles supporting it were twelve in number each as thick round as is the chest of a man breast high….

The inner walls of the pavilion are lined with crimson tapestry very beautifully woven in patterns of diverse designs, further it is hung with silk stuffs of many colours, in places worked over with embroidery of gold thread. The ceiling of the pavilion is its mark of greatest beauty for at the four corners are figured four eagles sitting with their wings closed. The exterior walls of the pavilion are made of a silk cloth woven in bands of white and black and yellow that to us appeared made of silk sarsenet. Outside at each corner there is set a very tall staff capped with an apple of burnished copper above which is a crescent.… From a distance indeed this great tent would appear to be a castle, it is so immensely broad and high. It is a wonder to behold, and magnificent beyond description….

Round and about the pavilion on the ground outside is erected a wall of cloth, as might be otherwise the wall of a town or castle, and the cloth is of many coloured silks in diverse patterns…. This forms the great Enclosure surrounding and shutting in the pavilion. It is known by the name of the Sarápardeh, and within its circuit stand many other tents and awnings pitched diversely and at intervals. Among the rest we noted here a very lofty circular tent of another kind, for this is not stayed with ropes, the wall being supported by poles of the size and thickness of our lances, which are wrought into the canvas wall, as might be to form a netting cross-wise. Above those of the side walls rise other long poles which hold up the upper part of the tent forming the domed ceiling…. Then in a row there were four tents that were connected together by a passageway going from one to the other, by which one could pass as might be through a corridor, and this corridor was covered in above by a ceiling....

In this wall, the Enclosure, there were opened at intervals window frames with shutters, but these window openings could not be passed through from without by any one, for each was guarded by a netting of thin silk tape…. High up, in the ceiling of the cupola of the tent we are now describing, is seen the figure of an eagle in silver gilt, it is of a great size and its wings are open. ”

Read more:

Shamiana in Pakistan Today:

Two Folds of Cloth, Outside Dosuti Coloured, Inner Cloth Flowered Printed or Gulkari with Frill all round. Complete with Kanat Ropes, Bamboo Poles and Pegs.

Other Resources:


1 comment:

Mughal Tents said...

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Mughal Tents