Object name: Muslin shawl
Object number: CHWJA:JAH151
Description: Indian muslin shawl with embroidery, believed to have been worked by Jane Austen. This shawl is rectangular, measuring 50cm x 258cm. It has been made by joining together two muslin panels. It is made from Indian muslin, decorated with a narrow border of small embroidered crosses and a pattern of crosses across the fabric, worked in satin stitch.
Made: Late 18th / early 19th century
Context: Shawls were a hugely popular and versatile fashion accessory in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many were made in India or East Asia, or were made in Europe from fabrics that were imported in bulk by the East India Company.
By the 1800s, Indian shawls were a fashion staple for Regency high society. Not only did they add style and glamour to a lady’s wardrobe, they also added colour and pattern to her dress, and provided a welcome layer of warmth.
There are many references to shawls in both Jane Austen’s novels and in her letters.
‘Mary Whitby’s turn is actually come to be grown up & have a fine complexion & wear great square muslin shawls.’
Jane Austen, 21-23 April 1805
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