non western fashion

A Bolivian trainee wizard with CISNE, wearing an amulet designed to aid the mind in Occlumency. Since only rudimentary Occlumency is achievable for all but the most skilled wix, all CISNE agents are required to wear Occumency Augmenting Amulets to protect the top-secret information and magical practices they investigate.

CISNE, or La Comisión de Investigaciones en la Sabiduría Nefanda o Enigmática, is roughly the equivalent of the Department of Mysteries for the Andean region of South America. One of the their few publicly known tasks is to collect information of the spells and rituals of indigenous wix before older generations die without passing on their knowledge; untold numbers of spells and magics have already been lost through centuries of colonialist efforts to wipe out indigenous magics.

(Johnathan Marquez by David Armstrong)


India (Punjab or Rajasthan), Mughal, 18th - 19th century

Gold, precious and semi-precious stones and pearls

Pictorial representations and literary accounts of jewelry from the Mughal era abound, for the wearing and appreciation of jewels and gems was considered an art in itself. The memoirs of Jahangir, for instance, record his decisions to wear certain pearls or rubies for important occasions, but the practice was not limited to royalty alone—travelers to India noted the quantity of jewelry worn by all members of society. Because very few of these pieces survive, most seventeenth-century jewelry is known only from paintings and written descriptions; extant pieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are much more numerous. This particular necklace, composed of diamonds, rubies, pearls, and imitation emeralds set in gold, might represent work for a new class of patrons, the British in India.

Bracelet with Miniature Portraits

India (Delhi), Mughal/British Raj, c. 1860 - 1870

Watercolors on ivory and gold

The six segments of this bracelet feature miniature portraits of three Mughal emperors and their consorts. Indian artists adopted the technique of painting portrait miniatures on ivory with watercolors from British artists living and working in India during the 19th century. This delicate bracelet is, therefore, an interesting example of the cultural exchange between East and West during the period of European imperialism.


India, Mughal, 18th century

Cotton, embroidered with gold-wrapped thread and floss silk.

This elegant robe would have been worn by a man at one of the courts of northern India. The floor-length gathered skirt was popular in the 18th century, in contrast to the shorter robes of the previous century. The staggered floral design is typical of late Mughal design, and is often seen printed on textiles, as well as embroidered as in this example.

Men’s Court Sash (patka)

India (Deccan), Mughal, 18th century

Cotton and silk

Man’s court sash (patka) of undyed plain-weave cotton with edges and ends embroidered with pink and red flowers within undulating stems; crosswise border (pallaka) at each end consists of a repeated pattern of individual flowers with curving leaves; fringe of gilt yarn at each end.

An important element of male courtly attire in sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century India, the patka or girdle played a symbolic and decorative role comparable to the necktie today. Often the most lavishly decorated component of a man’s formal dress, the patka tied at the waist with the ends hanging toward the knees. The length of the ends and the position of the knot changed according to the fashions of the times. The ends of the patka, known as the pallakas, tend to be more elaborately and sumptuously ornamented than the central area, with lavish embroidery and metal thread. Because rulers often granted patkas as token of esteem, the sashes became symbols of political status as well as emblems of wealth and good taste.

Boys Coat

India, Mughal, late 18th or early 19th century

Brocaded wool, embroidered in silk and silver threads, lined with cotton and silk

Boy’s coat or shawl cloth of brocaded woollen cloth (pashmina) with facings of embroidered silk. Short body, tubular sleeves and full pleated skirt. Open in the front, and secured over the breast by a ball-and-loop and tying cord. The material is an orange coloured pashmina with a brocaded diaper of small flowerets in blue, yellow, green and black. The intervening ground is impressed with four-fold diagonal and intersecting lines forming a diamond trellis. The collar, cuffs and edges are ornamented with strips and panels of sage-green Lahore silk embroidered in coloured silks and silver threads with a delicate design of scrolling floral stems. Lined with a mixed fabric of cotton and silk with vertical stripes in red and pale pink.

This would have been worn in the winter months at several of the courts of North India with trousers.

On today’s installment of Yiwen Complains About Art and Museums, can we talk about how western historical fashion is displayed on mannequins to look more accurate to how they look like worn, and non-western historical fashion is laid down or displayed flat upright, as if they’re obsolete curiosities not meant to be worn?