1920s Exotic Embroidered Coat

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.

Comments:

Posted by Sparkle:

The patterns flow beautiful and softly to the eyes, thanks for sharing

Sunday, May 21st 2006 @ 9:45 AM

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!!

Monday, May 22nd 2006 @ 8:55 PM

Posted by vintage-voyager:

That was when she travelled and dug in Iraq and Syria, Chris – check out ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’ for the fictional version. Is it ‘Come tell me how you live’ that you read?
I’m in total *awe* of this coat. Just amazing!

Tuesday, May 23rd 2006 @ 10:07 AM

Posted by r khiani:

Hi found your site while I was digging up some history on my ancestors, I am actually a direct decendent of the Pohoomull bros Have heard so much about how we had stores spread all over the world… would love to know if you have any more information on us
Best
http://www.urbaneye.com

Sunday, August 6th 2006 @ 12:11 PM

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

Monday, August 7th 2006 @ 11:48 AM

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

Monday, March 23rd 2009 @ 2:21 PM

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

Monday, March 23rd 2009 @ 7:18 PM


4 Comments

Filed under Exotic Locales, Vintage Clothing

4 responses to “1920s Exotic Embroidered Coat

  1. Hamdi Faragalla

    Hi Lizzie
    Read with great interest your posting and the comments made by others including that of Renu’s. I stumbled across the site while trying to understand a little more after acquiring a pair of napkin rings in original Pohoomull Brothers’ box. The rings depict ancient Egyptian scenes. Pieces of the jigsaw are falling properly into place now. Hamdi

    Like

  2. Cheryl Cozad

    What a surprise! I have this exact same coat passed down to me by my grandmother! I’m not sure if she traveled to Egypt during the 20’s but she may have been given the coat by a wealthy aunt. The label on my coat reads, ” D. Chellaram Cairo.Luscor.”
    Do you have any idea how much the coat is valued at today? I would be willing to sell this coat to someone who would treasure it.

    Like

  3. Hi Lizzie,

    Loved your post and covet the jacket! I found your blog when I tried to look up the history of a Pohoomull Bros. I recently acquired a paper jewelry box from the 1930s with their logo on it. Now I wonder if one of the items in the box was the one originally purchased. Keep up the good work!

    Like

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