Thanks to a grant from the Textile Society, Monmouthshire Museums Service is now able to proceed with the conservation of a rare and important eighteenth-century silk banyan known as ‘The Chepstow Coat’. The banyan is one of a small number of internationally significant objects cared for by Monmouthshire Museums Service, and is currently in storage at Chepstow Museum. Chepstow Museum are delighted to announce that, following the conservation work, the Chepstow Coat will feature in a temporary exhibition at the British Museum on Assamese silks, in autumn 2015.
The banyan previously belonged to a male member of the Cobb family, who resided at the nearby Caldicot Castle in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, although the exact provenance of the garment is unknown. It was originally worn as a housecoat. The object is considered to be highly significant because of the Assamese textiles from which the banyan’s lining is constructed, which are in exceptionally good condition.
Although an eighteenth-century English garment, the banyan includes both eighteenth-century Chinese and mid-late seventeenth-century Indian textiles. There are only about twenty such coats surviving in the world today, in museums and private collections. All the other surviving examples, including one held by the British Museum, have an origin in Tibet, making this one of the most interesting.
A recent study by experts from the British Museum has identified the Indian element of the coat, which today forms the lining, as ‘one of the most interesting and important Indian textiles held in museum collections in this country’. The particular importance of the lining was originally identified in the early 1990s. The forthcoming conservation work means that the banyan will be safe for handling and display at the British Museum, and on its return to Chepstow Museum.
For more information about this conservation grant, visit the website of the Textile Society.