Marian Hastings national portrait galler

Photo: Marian Hastings (née Anna Maria Apollonia Chapusettin). By William Greatbach, published in 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London.

Embroidered Fan Axe Shaped  (IM.7-1938) in the South and South- East Asia Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

This essay focused on a late eighteenth-century fan, which belonged to the South and South East Asia collection of the Victoria& Albert Museum. A unique fan elaborate and intricately decorated.

Manufactured in Murshidabad districts in Bengal (a region in India), the Museum acquired this fan from Archibald Graham in 1938, under the comment ‘Its historic associations, […] would give it a special interest’. According to this file, the fan belonged to Warren Hastings second wife, Marian. This study assumes that the fan belonged to her and tried to confirm this assumption with historical evidence.

To better understand the history of the fan, a different element of the fan’s history were considered as the history of Hastings family, which is interwoven with the history of British India. In addition, the essay analyses the unique materiality of the object; the silk and metal spangle embroidery, typical to Indian embroidery from Bengal area. Moreover, the essay focuses on fans as the primary female fashion accessory during the eighteenth century and as a luxury object. Finally, questioning the objects as a hybrid object.