Woman's wrapper (shiromani) - ROM2009_11173_3


Woman's wrapper (shiromani)

Medium:Roller-printed cotton
Geography: Made in India for export to Nzwane, Comoros
Date: 2007
227.5 x 141 cm
Object number: 2009.61.2
Not on view

This woman's wrapper (shiromani) is made of factory spun and woven cotton or cottton blend. Two textile lengths are joined along the selvage and the raw edges are machine hemmed. The printed pattern of six squares is bordered with red. Each sqaure contains small red circles on a white ground. The border is the reverse, featuring large white circles on a red ground. The red borders dividing the squares have been shortened by machine stitching in order to better conform with local aesthetic standards concerning the size and disposition of borders.

The shiromani are the ceremonial dress of the women of Ajouan. Women dress in 2 wrappers – one worn as a head cover, one as a hip or chest wrap. Nearly every year, design fashions change, requiring women to acquire the latest model for use in ceremonies that may call for all its female participants to dress in matching shiromani. The general design configuration, however, remains the same: six squares outlined in white on a red ground and filled with repeating designs in white (circles, hearts, flowers…). A border decoration often runs along the two long edges. While usually red and white, the geometric motifs go quickly in and out of fashion.

According to one interpretation, the kanga tradition began by women stitching together printed handkerchiefs. To this day, the women of Anjouan in the Comoros Archipelago choose to dress in an industrially printed version of six joined handkerchiefs. In the presence of strangers, women pull them shut to uphold Muslim modesty.

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