164
164
North India, Mughal
TWO FRAGMENTARY DOUBLE NICHE (QANAT) TENT PANELS
JUMP TO LOT
164
North India, Mughal
TWO FRAGMENTARY DOUBLE NICHE (QANAT) TENT PANELS
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

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London

North India, Mughal
TWO FRAGMENTARY DOUBLE NICHE (QANAT) TENT PANELS
painted and resist dyed cotton
each mounted: 161 by 61cm; 5ft 3in by 2ft; textile: one approximately 154 by 85cm; 61 by 33in; the other 153 by 86cm; 60 by 34in.
17th century
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Catalogue Note

For the open air tent encampments the Qanat hanging was very important, and they were composed of a repeating row of similar or identical panel which usually incorporated a niche, and were to be cut by the user according to the dimensions of the screen it was intended to cover. These screens were placed to create the enclosure within which the tents were erected. They were made of strong cloth and lined with painted cloths (Chittes). There were additional shorter screens, the height of a man, around individual and groups of tents, and other tent hangings were the lining decoration within the tents themselves. The format of the niche enclosing flowering plants was ubiquitous and used in architectural decoration and as a motif in other disciplines including embroidery, ceramics, tiles and metal-work, and are seen in manuscripts from the 16th century onwards. Designs were inspired by Safavid prototypes which entered the Mughal decorative repertoire. For an example a rare comparable piece, known as the 'Aynard' niche carpet, North India, second quarter 17th century, see Spuhler, Friedrich, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Carpets and Textiles, London, 1988, Chp. 5, Mughal Carpets, No.45, pp.174-177, which has a shallow niche, white flowering shrub with green leaves against a red ground. The use of colours red and yellow are not uncommon, with details in green. For an evocative 16th century miniature, painted depicting the outer tent enclosure with hangings of repeat niches with red ground, white flowers and green cypress trees, see 'Akbar Hunting', gouache and gold on paper, by Miskina and Sarwan, Mughal, circa 1590 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London: Acc.No. IS.2-1896 - 55/117)

See Irwin, John and Hall, Margaret, Indian Painted and Printed Fabrics, Ahmedabad, 1971, Chp.III, Tent- Hangings, Floorspreads and Coverlets, pp.22-35, Nos, 20-22, pl.10-11, for discussion of tent hangings and examples of cotton, block printed and painted tent panels, from a larger set, North India, 18th century, one of which has the distinctive flowering plant emanating from a vase with fruit, and has the small cloud band (lotas) motifs in the lower corner, along with two wild animals. It is noted that two of the panels were cut into separate pieces and resewn together, and considering their structure, use and age, this is not surprising. These example share the use of shallow cusped niche format, albeit of longer format, whereas the present panels are smaller. The above and present examples include a simplified flower motif and leaves in the corner spandrels.

For a Qanat tent panel example, which is predominantly ivory, with red applique above the niche cusp, possibly Jaipur, 18th century (132 by 110cm), which is the same technique, (in this example comprising  joined appliquéd sections), and shorter in height, see Sotheby’s, London, 27 April 2005, lot 1. For examples of more diminuitive scale of niche, composed in a repeat pattern separated by columns and clearly influenced by architecture, see a pair of Mughal prayer rugs, wool pile, India, late 17th/early 18th century, see Spuhler, Friedrich, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Keir Collections, London, 1978, Nos. 64&65, p.128, pls.p.123 (Acquired 1974). As the compostion is horizontal, these too are shorter niches, and similar to the present panels, are against a red ground. These pile rugs allude to the extent of the inspiration of the motifs. For a discussion and examples in embroidery, see Crill, Rosemary, Indian Embroidery, V&A publications, London, 1999, Nos.24 &25, pp.16, 42-43, of similar inspiration of the late 17th century. Interestingly the tent panels did not always depict flowering shrubs, and examples with monumental standing figures in a niches are known, for example a tent panel with standing figure of woman in profile, Mughal, perhaps Fatehpur Sikri, late 16th century, woven (red, green, orange and yellow) silk lampas (182 by 151cm), in the Nasser D Khalili Collection (Inv. Txt (IND) 17) and a companion piece of a male figure in Persian costume holding a cup (now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

For another Qanat tent panel in this sale, see lot 374.

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

|
London