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The embellishment techniques used on this coat link it to the sewn and sequined kalaga, or story hangings, also made in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Kalaga illustrate stories from the Ramayana epic or Burmese folk tales. They were once limited to the courts, royalty and high officials, but with the arrival of British rule, commoners began to make and wear them. This coat gives the impression that the wearer is displaying great riches, without actually being rich.

Where was this textile created?

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Reflections of Glory

Asia: South East Asia, Myanmar
Late 19th century
Cotton velvet embellished with fur, sequins, beads, ribbon braid and fringe
82 cm x 145 cm
Gift of Dr. Jack Brandes
T88.0752 Textile Museum of Canada

This lavish coat is heavy with the weight of hundreds of large cup sequins and beads, as well as several metres of cotton and gold braid trim. The trims are machine-sewn to the coat through the cotton lining, and the floral designs are sewn coarsely. In fact, we would not call it embroidery since the stitches are not decorative, but used to attach the sequins, beads and trims.

The early embroidery (1752-1760 AD) of the Burmese royal house was rough in composition. It reportedly consisted of real gold coins stitched on to cotton cloth. Thai artisans later introduced velvet, sequins and semiprecious stones to Burma, and court costume became more refined.

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