Indian Trade Beetle Wing Yardage
The wing casings of the Buprestidae beetle are a beautiful metallic blue-green color, which has led many textile makers in India to embellish garments with these iridescent jewel-like shells. Naga as well as Mughal clothing designers appreciated the visual interest these natural “sequins” could provide. In the 19th century, it became fashionable for European women to wear gowns and shawls decorated with these beetle wing casings. These garments were usually made in India and sent to Europe, but sometimes the casings themselves were sent to Europe for textile makers to use there. The wing casings were often cut into different shapes and used in floral and other naturalistic motifs on the hems, necks, and sleeves of garments, where they would be in less danger of being crushed.
Circa: 19th c.
Origin: North India
Material: cotton net with couched gold wrapped thread and beetle wings
Condition: some beetle wings broken or missing, generally good
Dimensions: 20" x 72"
Inventory number: TX2912