non western fashion


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.

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)

Why don’t you post X?

So you all have been sending me lots of amazing asks (I’m slowly working my way through them!) but this also means I have been getting a lot of requests for certain types of garments or countries. 

Here’s the thing. 

I almost exclusively post garments found in museum collections. With that comes some limitations.

I would love to show how lower classes made fashion work for them. I would love to post items from every country there is. It would be an amazing to have as many garments from Malaysia or Korea or Afghanistan as I do Western Europe. However, with this comes two different problems.

Problem one: There are few to no extant garments from the lower classes. I can think of maybe like two off the top of my head. There’s a bunch of reasons as to why that we can discuss at a later time but I really want to talk about problem two. 

Problem two: Museums don’t have as much from non-western places (with the exception of China and Japan). If they do, they’re displayed poorly and you can’t get a proper look at the garment. 

“Ok so find some non-western museums!”

I do have some on my lists. I’ve even found some new ones! But not all museums have digital collections or have the funds and resources to even start a digital database. I know I make a lot of jokes about “display this properly for me!” but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into creating a display, even if it’s just for a photograph. There’s a couple of amazing museums that I would love to have digital collections. The MET & and the V&A have such amazing collections and databases because they also have a lot of money and resources going towards them.  

TL;DR: I would love to fill all your requests and feature significantly more non-western fashion or lower class fashion. But I am only one person and sometimes there aren’t museums or garments out there.

(If you happen to know of a museum with a fabulous non-western fashion collection, I would love to see it!)

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?