A recent purchase, and the current object of my affection, is this beautiful 1920s coat. It’s made from silk, and is finely decorated with embroidered appliques and Shisha mirror work. The coat was purchased in Egypt by a member of a Grayson family from Reading, Pennsylvania, but the coat is not of Egyptian origin. It was imported into Egypt by the Pohoomull Brothers, a Sindhi firm that by the early 20th century, was importing Indian goods into many Mediterranean markets.
The coat is simple in style, as one would expect in a 1920s garment, and the decoration is lavish. The rich embroidery is punctuated with Shisha work – the little glass mirrors that are embroidered onto the coat.
As much as I love the coat and its design, part of its real appeal is its origin. This coat was bought from the Pohoomull Bros. establishment on the grounds of the Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor, Egypt.
It was at the Winter Palace that Howard Carter first posted late in 1922, the announcement of his finding of King Tutankhamen’s tomb. And while fashion was already enjoying an exploration of various ethnic (especially Bohemian) influences, this discovery pushed to the forefront an insurgence of Eastern and North African influences in fashion. And so while this coat is not Egyptian, its connection to the birthplace of of this ethnic craze is very appealing!
Another note about the Winter Palace: Agatha Christie wrote much of Death on the Nile while staying at the hotel in 1937.
An old luggage label from the Winter Palace.
Posted by Sparkle:
The patterns flow beautiful and softly to the eyes, thanks for sharing
Posted by Chris:
Interestingly, in her autobiography, Agatha Christie mentions writing and living in a tent near the archaeological dig her second husband was involved with later in her career, and made no mention of a hotel. Maybe she was there multiple times that I don’t recall or it just sounded more romantic to talk about living in a tent!!
Posted by vintage-voyager:
I’m in total *awe* of this coat. Just amazing!
Posted by r khiani:
Posted by Lizzie Bramlett:
I’d love to give you more information on the Pohoomull Bros, but I’m afraid that is pretty much all I was able to find. There is a book at Amazon, “The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama” that has information on Pohoomull. Good luck in your search. I’d be interested in hearing more, if you can find it! Lizzie
Posted by renuka nandwani(nee Khiani):
Hi.My grandfather was Chandanmal Khiani and father Lachoo Khiani. Pohoomull was my grandfathers father I think. Still tryin to figure it out. Do you actually have the coat with u?? Would it be possible to buy it off u?/The only Pohoomull Bros Shop remaining now stands here in Gibraltar and belongs to my Father.Any other information would be great. Thanks Renu
Posted by Lizzie:
Hello, And thanks so much for writing! It’s really exciting hearing from you and getting that additional info. Yes, I do own this coat, as it is part of my personal collection. I’m afraid it is not for sale, however. Lizzie