Indo-Portuguese Colcha

The Portuguese were the first to arrive in South Asia by sailing around Africa, capturing Goa in 1510. During the sixteen century, they were the leading European players in India and China. Spices and textiles were the most traded commodities at that time. During the peak times, about eight hundred thousand pieces of cloth were annually imported to Lisbon. In this context, the magnificently embroidered colchas changed from being exclusive diplomatic gifts or exotic souvenirs into marketable trade products that were meant to be sold to wealthy households. Using Chinese silk and local stitchwork, the colchas used Portuguese design elements. Colchas were made either in Goa or on the east coast in Bengal, and they are some of the earliest cross-cultural textiles known.

This polychrome embroidered colcha is typical with the center Habsburgian Eagle flanked by four large peacocks in a field full of small birds and animals with four more large birds in the corners of the wide borders. The crimson satin ground material probably disintegrated not long after the clocha was made and was meticulously removed in a process that probably took as long as it took to create this beautiful coverlet.


Circa: 1580-1650

Origin: Indo-Portuguese

Material: Silk on Cotton

Condition: Good

Dimensions: 64" x 76"

Inventory number: TX4837



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