Cap with leaves and flowers

In the winter of 1868/69 the tea planter and explorer Robert Shaw travelled from northern India to Eastern Turkestan (now Xinjian, China). His journey was partly to help British India’s secret service in the exploration of Central Asia which was politically and geographically contested by the British Empire and Russia.

Shaw was the first Englishman to visit Yarkand and Kashgar, and he related his adventures in his book Visits to High Tartary, Yarkand, and Kashgar. He described the splendid clothes he encountered and mentioned on several occasions receiving gifts of coats and other garments.

The finest of these were presented by Yakub Beg, then ruler of Kashgar. Shaw’s detailed description makes the collection of Central Asian ikat garments one of the best recorded.

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