Virginia Museum Acquires "Iris" Painting

by Frank Dumond, Who Taught O'Keeffe



The rose-pink silk royal turban from India acquired by the museum is eleven inches in diameter and is encrusted with rose-cut diamonds and emeralds, seed pearls, and spangles, as well as silver and gold.


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has acquired this jewel-encrusted royal Indian turban, ca. 19th century. Turbans like this were worn by Hindu and Muslim kings during the British Raj. Photo by Katherine Wetzel, copyright 1997 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts


"Spectacular royal turbans such as this were worn by Maharajahs (Hindu kings) and Nawabs (Muslim kings) who governed the many princely states into which India was divided during the British Raj, from the 17th century to 1947," said Dr. Joseph M. Dye III, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter curator of Asiatic art at the Virginia Museum. "What Indians call dhoom-dham ('pomp and circumstance') was an integral part of glittering official events such as durbars (official assemblies), at which a turban such as this would be worn," Dye said. The aesthetic that governed the appearance of durbar attire stands completely at odds with Western taste. Its makers "consciously set out to make clothes and accessories that were showy, ostentatious, and absolutely unforgettable," Dye said.

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rev. 11/22/10

This page was originally published in 1997 Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 10/28/11

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