A small Indian armorial palempore for the European market
Coromandel Coast, possibly Pulicat,
1st half 18th century
Mordant-dyed and resist-dyed in red, blue and black, wadded with cotton and quilted. On a field of sprigged floral pattern, in the four corners vases with a bunch of flowers and in the centre a coat-of-arms under ducal crowns.
H. 137 x W. 105 cm
This type of sprigged floral pattern was particularly popular in France, where imitations, called paillaca, were made in the mid-18th century. The coat-of-arms of the French lineage Honoré (Bouche-du-Rhône, Provence) is very similar, d’azur à la bande d’argent accompagnée d’un soleil rayonmant et d’un lion rampant d’or. The problem however is that the sun and lion have been switched around and the colours of the lion and sun are not gold but white for silver. However the gold colour may have been faded. Another resemblant coat-of-arms is that of the Sicilian noble lineage Amato (Palermo, Merssina, dukes of Caccamo, princes of Galati, etc.) The coat-of- arms described in Italian: D’azzuro alla banda d’oro e dun leone d’oro passante accompagnata all’angolo destro da una cometa d’oro e nell’angolo destro della punta da una stella della stesso d’azzuro. Again, the colours are not right and the star accompanying the lion is lacking in the palempore. The ducal crown however better fits the noble Italian Amato lineage than the bourgeois French Honoré family. So, it is not certain which of the two families is represented on the palempore although the Italian Amato family seem a bit more likely. A third possibility is the Portuguese monastry of Santo Tirso. Disappointingly, again the colours of the lion and sun are gold, the diagonal band has become two silver and a blue waved bands and the lion is holding a staff. Besides the crown has is a silver mural crown with three towers. Also lacking is the white listel with the caption in capital letters: “FREGUESIA DE SANTO TIRSO.” So none of these three coats of arms completely fits the one on
the palempore. Local craftsmen (or women) in India may have misunderstood the European coat-of-arms.