Tree-of-Life Palampore

Northern Coromandel coast, India.
Circa 1730-50.
Painted and resist dyed cotton.
318 x 212 cm.

The undulating branches with exotic oversized flowers, multitude of leaves, fantastical birds, succulent fruit, all capture the otherworldly mood of the Deccan and its mystical inclinations in a hypnotic wave and envelop the viewer.

A rich display of foliage, beautifully drawn and vivid delicate decoration in exquisite coloured dyes shows the skill and ability of the master craftsmen and artists of the region. The earth mound at the foot of tree is a tour de force of life, exuberance, designs and patterns. Leopards chasing deer, clusters of exotic birds, zig-zagging hills, frolicking rabbits, hunters, all form a cornucopia of plenty and depict the cycle of life. The tree trunk and branches have also been beautifully rendered with stylised internal decoration leaving no part unembellished or overlooked on the picture plane. A wide border with elegant variations frames the piece.

This is a classic museum quality tree of life Palampore of the type quite rare to come across now. While made for the export market to Europe, where such textiles were highly coveted and fashionable in the 18th century, our piece retains a strong Indian sensibility informed by the aesthetic traditions of the Deccan. The Northern part of the Coromandel Coast was part of the erstwhile Golconda dominions, where we believe our textile originates. Pieces from the mid 18th century onwards display a strong Chinese influence and a sparser aesthetic.

 

The present piece was recently exhibited in the show:
The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and The Cosmic Tree. Camden Arts Centre, London. 24 September-28 February 2021.

 

Provenance:
Christies London, 1977.
Private collection UK, 1977-2018.
Prahlad Bubbar collection, 2018.

 

References:
Crill, Rosemary. Chinz: Indian Textiles for the West. London: V&A Publishing, 2008.
Guy, John. Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East. London: Thames & Hudson, 1998.
Irwin, John, and Katharine B. Brett. Origins of Chintz, with a Catalogue of Indo-European Cotton-Paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. London, 1970.

 

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