We open for 2022 on Friday 1st April and look forward to welcoming more new visitors as well as friends coming back again.
Like many of our treasures, we continue to learn more about them. These tiles have always been on view in the Colonel’s study but in 2018 Arthur Millner came to photograph the Little Hall examples for a book he was writing. Last November we received a complimentary copy of the book [Indian Tiles, published by Prestel in 2021] which has made us to look at the tiles in a new light. Collections of these beautiful tiles can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in New Delhi, in Paris and right here in Lavenham.
The cuerda seca Indian Tiles
embedded in the walls of the Colonel’s Study
This little room was created from the kitchen/living room of one of the Little Hall cottages. It became the Colonel’s bedroom after the death of the twins’ mother in 1937 but when the room was set out for the museum it was decided the space was more suited to a study.
The Colonel describes the decoration of the room…. As another quasi-oriental ‘mixture’ for its four built in cupboards are of 17th century Egyptian-Arab panelling and …. the built-in tiles are Indian of the same century, acquired in Kashmir
These tiles date back to the 1650s and were collected by Thomas Gayer Anderson during his travels in India. They are thought to have come from the Madani Gateway which was the monumental gateway to the tomb of the Sufi saint Sayyid Muhammad al-Madani in Srinagar, Kashmir. Although the tomb was built at the time of Madani’s death in 1445, the tiles date from nearly 200 years later.
The gateway was in fact built during the reign of Shah Jahan during the Mughal dynasty. Archaeologists suspect that the artists may have struggled with the unfamiliar technique and would have needed the guidance of Persian or Indian craftsmen and brought to Srinagar at a later date. As there were no other cuerda seca tiles in Kashmir we can assume the Madani tiles were manufactured in Lahore or at least by Lahore craftsmen brought to Srinagar.
An archaeological survey of 1909 suggests that the gateway was already in a bad state with the tiles broken and fallen off even then before the Colonel collected them.
Cuerda seca (Spanish for dry cord) is a technique used when applying coloured glazes to ceramic surfaces. The water-soluble glazes are separated on the surface by thin lines of a greasy substance to prevent them running into each other. The results give a wide range of colours and designs, flower vases with naturalistic bouquets as well as more formal symmetrical patterns.
Cards made from some of these tiles are available to buy in Little Hall shop.