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Gold and silver wire and thread drawers at work

Gold and silver wire and thread drawers at work

Photographer: Narayen, Shivashanker

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1873

Shelfmark: Photo 1000/52(4916)

Item number: 4916

Length: 17.2

Width: 23.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of gold and silver wire and thread drawers at work in India, taken by Shivashanker Narayen in c. 1873, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. This image, of a group seated in a workshop, has a label on the reverse for the Vienna Exhibition of the same year. The tinsel wires are made of silver, or silver coated with gold leaf, and made into a bar, which is then forced through a series of holes on a steel plate to obtain increasingly fine-gauged lengths. Traditionally the wire was then wound onto a reel, as seen in the photograph, attached at the other end to a jantar, another steel plate, which allowed for further refining of the gauge. Wires no thicker than a hair were obtained this way. A tola (180 grains of metal) usually produced 600 to 1,200 yards of wire. This product is used, sometimes together with silk, in a wide range of articles and garments. Examples of all the following were sent to the Vienna exhibition: turbans, saris, dresses, shoes, fringing, gold and silver lace, shawls, rugs and tablecloths. It was held that metal threads from India were less likely to tarnish than similar products from other sources.

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