Monday, May 11, 2015

Antique Shawl: Wrap Yourself in Time

Not everyone knows that Russian shawls come in cotton, and not just in wool. Cotton ones are more rare, as their production stopped dozens of years ago, whereas wool shawls and scarves are still produced by the famous Pavlovo Posad Manufacture in Russia. It is a bit sad that cotton has been neglected in this way, but at least there are many vintage cotton Russian shawls that can be found and enjoyed.

I have handled many cotton Russian shawls; some of them are very ordinary, naive or even banal, whereas some are unusual and sophisticated. The one I am offering to your attention is not even vintage - it is antique. Just look at the elegant drawing - it looks like an ink and watercolour drawing by hand...

It is not often that I see a design this alive and breathing. The flowers seem to be trembling under the wind; every little imperfection makes this print only more endearing. 

I am sure that this was hand block printed. The watercolour-y quality is typical for hand block printing. I guess the shawl can be from 1940s or earlier. The dahlias are gorgeous, and look at those fragile fuchsias flowers. 

It drapes in the most beautiful way, with lots of empty space close to the face, and a beautiful lower edge. The fine cotton is soft and lovely to the touch. The shawl is not new - someone loved and worn it... I would imagine her to be daring and elegant; she probably wore the shawl with beautiful slim dresses if it was before the war. Maybe she played the piano and had a dresser full of silver, cut crystal bottles with old Guerlain perfumes and silver brushes. Or maybe not, who knows? In any case, I think this Russian shawl might have seen good and bad times throughout its long life...

...A general view photo is usually convenient if you want to search through old catalogues, in hope to attribute the shawl to one of the designers. I have little hope for identification of the artist, although my friend pointed out that it looked like a design by Abolikhin to her, based on the shape of flowers and how some of them are turned with their backs to the observer. I need to see more shawls by that designer, though. For now, I am just happy to have this antique beauty, which is so much like an old botanical book on yellowed parchment.

This Russian shawl is for sale here. It is one and only - I have never seen another one like this.


  1. Wow - what a beautiful shawl! I love the overall scheme, too, not just the individual flowers (though they are pretty, as well!). It is fun to imagine the life of an item's original owner, isn't it?

  2. That is just gorgeous! Love those vibrant colors!

  3. I love how the pattern is more at the bottom...looks like walking through a garden!
    And I love the watercolor look as well.


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