About this object

History of use

A particularly lavish bag that may have been used to carry, store and protect items used for ceremonial purposes and/or special events. The textiles used to construct this bag were probably scraps of older textiles that have been reused and repurposed, using new fringe, braids and tassels. The textile on the front is made to look like an ikat weaving but is in fact very finely embroidered, using designs and colours that are typical of ikats.


According to Clarke Abbott of Tradewind Antiques, the person who collected this piece lived in Kabul in the early 1960s, doing ambassadorial work. He traveled widely throughout the area. He was killed in an automobile accident there, and no further information is available about him or his collection. The piece was subsequently acquired by Tradewind Antiques in Vancouver at an unknown date, and the Museum of Anthropology purchased it in 1984, when the business was liquidating its stock. The provenance of the piece is unknown. It may have been collected in Afghanistan, where the collector lived in the 1960s, but was made elsewhere, for instance in Uzbekistan. Many artisans left Soviet Central Asia after the Revolution and came to Afghanistan, bringing with them their worldly goods. In Afghanistan they continued to produce textiles in traditional ways, but in diminished quality and quantity.

Physical description

Flat, rectangular, decorative bag, made from two different types of textile. The front of the bag is made from very finely embroidered, multi-coloured textile with patterns that resemble an ikat weaving. The back of the bag is made from a cotton warp face ikat textile with large red and yellow patterning on an off-white background. All four edges of the front of the bag are finished with narrow multi-coloured tablet-woven braids. The sides and bottom edge of the bag are trimmed with dense, long (11 cm), multi-coloured, twisted fringe (red, dark yellow, purple, off-white, brown, green and blue). The opening of the bag is trimmed with four multi-coloured tassels. The front of the bag is lined with a loosely woven, printed, tan cotton textile.