Banjara Plate Covering
The Banjara are a semi-nomadic group found throughout many parts of India. They are renowned for their colourful and highly ornamental textiles, dress and jewellery.
This piece is a ceremonial plate cover featuring cross stitched cotton thread on madder dyed cotton with a border of indigo. It comes from Andhra Pradesh, a region which is located along the eastern coast of Southern India.
Although the lack of written records makes it hard to date such pieces with 100% accuracy, the hand stitched seams and borders, the obvious natural dyes, and the character and design of the work indicate that this piece heralds from around 1940.
There is currently a popular revival in Banjara embroidery, and modern pieces are characterised by bright coloured fabrics and stitching threads from synthetic dyes, with much larger or longer stitching. They certainly lack the workmanship and intensity of colour derived from natural dyes that can be found in this excellent example.