Conservation of an Indian jama

Follow our Conservation team as they clean and repair a spectacular 19th-century jama in preparation for its display.

The jama was a style of garment worn by men in many regions of India between the 16th and 19th centuries. This striking red jama from Bikaner, Rajasthan, was made around 1855 and is beautifully decorated with golden badla (flattened metal wire), gota (tinsel ribbon made of badla woven with silk or cotton), and jewel beetle elytron (wing case) sequins.

Before it could be put on display, the jama needed significant conservation work – 19th century dirt and moth damage required cleaning and repairs, and the unravelling embellishments needed careful attention. A structural support lining was also created to prevent the large and heavy skirt from straining the bodice whilst on display.

Over 160 years since they were first applied, the jama's striking jewel beetle sequins still sparkle. In order to understand how and why their iridescent structural colour changes over time, they are being researched by the V&A's Textile Conservation department in collaboration with the Natural History Museum.

The jama is on display in our South Asia Gallery, Room 41.

Background image: Jama, unknown, 1855, India. Museum no. 05563(IS). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London