The silk lampas robe being offered April 24 at Sotheby's London.


LONDON - We marvel at vintage garments in good condition from the 1960s; to think that a pristine Central Asian silk lampas robe and feathered hat from the 11th/12th Century can be bought today for the price of a quality fur coat or two is quite daunting!!
 
Up for sale on April 24 are this magnificent fur-lined robe and its accompanying feathered hat, which are singular in design, colour and condition. Alexandra Roy, one of our Islamic cataloguers working on the sale, tells me that: “textiles, due to their portability, were particularly conducive to trade and exchange and played an important role in the dissemination of artistic motifs. Local Sogdian silk production flourished from the seventh to the eleventh century, and featured an assortment of influences. This superb coat and extravagant hat are indicative of this fusion. Characterised by a rich and broad cross-cultural mixture, and lying at the crossroad between China and Iran, this robe and hat play an important part in our understanding of a nomadic culture in which wealth had to be transportable."


Its accompanying feather hat.


The portability of wealth, whether in terms of jewellery, gold coins, or other goods, is of course very much a part of Middle Eastern civilization. Political upheaval, migrations, high mortality and polygamous practices all created great pragmatic pressures on how a family could express or carry its riches. The glory of beautifully woven fabrics, rich brocades and status-enhancing garments is an age-old yet enduring love for even the most minimalist amongst us. It is not for nothing that historically, flowing ermine-lined cloaks were considered to bestow regal status upon whichever shoulder they graced—no matter how undeserving the shoulder!
 
Quite rare on the market, these two items speak not only of an exotic origin but also of a feast for the eyes.

Arts of the Islamic World, Sotheby’s London, 24 April.

At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from Central Asia and the Caucasus opens next week – a new and different perspective on the region. Sotheby’s London 4-12 March