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Fragment (India), mid- 19th century

This is a Fragment. It is dated mid- 19th century and we acquired it in 1931. Its medium is cotton ground, beetle elytra, gold foil strips, gilt sequins, gold metal-wrapped silk thread. It is a part of the Textiles department.

The iridescent elytra, or wing casings, of the Buprestidae Jewel beetle have been used for centuries to adorn clothing and jewelry in India. In the 19th century, an export trade developed around Calcutta, where gossamer-fine cotton muslins were embroidered with gold threads and beetle wing “sequins.”

This object was donated by Sarah Cooper Hewitt. It is credited Gift of Sarah Cooper Hewitt.

  • Vase
  • glass.
  • Bequest of Joseph L. Morris.
  • 1966-55-40
  • Vase (USA), 1920–1929
  • blown, iridized, and tooled glass.
  • Museum purchase from Mary Blackwelder Memorial Fund.
  • 1977-56-1

Our curators have highlighted 6 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Vase (USA)
  • molded, glazed, and lustered earthenware.
  • 1984-84-27

Its dimensions are

24.2 x 17.3 cm (9 1/2 x 6 13/16 in. )

Cite this object as

Fragment (India), mid- 19th century; cotton ground, beetle elytra, gold foil strips, gilt sequins, gold metal-wrapped silk thread; 24.2 x 17.3 cm (9 1/2 x 6 13/16 in. ); Gift of Sarah Cooper Hewitt; 1931-43-20

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18318821/ |title=Fragment (India), mid- 19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>