The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 379.000 cm (excluding
Width: 126.000 cm
Wool cloth bed cover (shaffi)
Baluchi, Zagar Mengal, 19th century
From Chagai, Pakistan
This type of wool cloth is called a shaffi and was used as a bedding cover. It comes from Chagai, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It is green, dark red and light red with patterns in white, and has a string sewn along one edge with goat hair for strength. The Baluchi use the term shaffi exclusively for a drape with which they cover the bedding, blankets, quilts and cushions which they stack at one end of the tent or hut when not in use. The most attractive feature of the shaffi is a border running the length of the fabric on one or both sides. When woven in white wool, like this example, it gives the impression of white lace.
The intricately woven and embroidered textiles of the Baluchi are produced mostly by women who train to weave as young girls. In the past, a bride-to-be was always eager to produce as much of her trousseau as she could in this way but in the last few decades, fewer girls have learned this craft. Now, a girl who wants a particular woven cloth for her marriage often has to buy it second-hand, acquire it by barter, or commission it from an older woman.
J.W. Boucher, Baluchi woven treasures (Laurence King Publishing, 1989)
M.G. Konieczny, Textiles of Baluchistan (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)