Between 11-19 June, Christie’s will be presenting perhaps the most significant collection of shawls ever to be offered at an auction. The online sale – ‘An Important Private Collection of Kashmir Shawls’ – will comprise 85 lots with prices ranging from USD 1,200 – 15,200. Dating back from the 17th to the late 19th century, these hand-woven items of luxury were traditionally worn by men and women and were handed down in the family for generations. These treasured heirlooms are prized for the very fine quality of wool used and their intricate embroidered decoration.

The high level of craftsmanship achieved by Kashmiri weavers remains unmatched to this day.

Known in Kashmir as ‘pashmina’, the shawls are hand-woven from the softest, warmest, light-weight fabric spun from the fine under-hair of high-altitude goats. The weaving of this fine fabric into shawls is thought to have been done in Kashmir since the 1st century AD and remains in practice even today. The collection demonstrates the skills of the Kashmiri weavers perfected over centuries.

Moon shawl with stripes and a central moon design

Highlights include an early 19th century square shawl with a remarkable and unusual pattern which combines stripes with the central moon design – estimated between USD 8,900-12,700. Moon shawls are known to have been modelled after a type of sixteenth century carpet from the Ottoman court in Cairo. Striped examples were especially valued by members of the royal court of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Moon shawls were also very popular in Western markets especially with fashionable ladies in Britain in the late 18th and 19th centuries to be worn as accessories with their gowns.

Mughal long shawl

Further highlights include a 17th century Mughal long shawl border fragment comprising eleven singular floral motifs woven on an ivory ground – estimated between USD 5,000-7,500. This is an extremely rare 17th century example illustrating an iconic motif often associated with Mughal architecture and miniature paintings.