This dazzling chaakla (wall hanging) is mirror work embroidery called Shisha from Gujarat, a state in western India. Hand embroidered on black cotton that has a slightly coarse weave, the designs are worked in silk thread in ruby red, silver, purple and lime green. There are seventeen small mirrors called abhla that are affixed onto the fabric by a special stitch that encloses each mirror and provides a raised "frame." The mirrors in the center of the red designs are encircled with purple and the rest are surrounded by green. The edges of the needlework are decorated with a red and silver tassel motif. The finished piece was set against a mottled golden yellow background with a leathery finish, visible just around the edges.
This is a large, impressive chaakla. The vintage frame is a fluted walnut crossed corner one that measures 22 1/2 inches on each side, point to point. The embroidery itself is 16 inches square. The back is covered in a thin piece of wood, painted black and attached with old cut screws that have darkened in place. There are keyhole hangers at the top, but thankfully a sturdy hanging wire was also attached at a later date. The embroidery, the glass and the frame are all in excellent condition. The only color that has faded in places is the lime green; all the other colors are still vibrant. This piece is heavy, weighing 6 1/2 pounds (wall anchors are a good idea).
We were attracted to this framed embroidery for its intricate beauty, imagining it in all sorts of settings: boho, rustic, modern, traditional. In any style room, it's definitely an eye-catcher.
>>>After many attempts to capture the reflected light of the tiny mirrors, we gave up..but trust us, they're there.