Can you help me identify this mystery item? Ceremonial Robe?

This piece has been packed up in our house for several years. My Mom picked it up at a yardsale over 20 years ago. It's big, about 100 inches long and 22 inches wide. Old burgundy cotton velvelet with silk ribbon and tassels. The embroidery is very cool, done in metallic threads and chenille, with silk satin flower appliques. Tassles runs down the one lower side, and there are 3 silk ribbons on the other side, with a tassel on each one.
The back is a flannel, and it is very worn and dirty. It was lengthened about 5 inches on each end at one point too, still with old fabrics.
What is it? I thought maybe it was something from a church, but why the splits and why isn't there much embroidery in the main center panel? There is nothing on the back to hang it on the wall, the the ribbons on the top definately go back, otherwise the fabric on them is backwards if they were to hang down onto the pieces. But those ribbons are just pinned on. If it went on a table with the side pieces hanging down, they would be all floppy and wouldn't hang right.

Or is it some sort of ceremonial robe? It doesn't hang quite right, unless I have it wrong somehow. And why do flannel in the light tan color when it would show when it was worn. Plus the flannel is so worn and dirty, how much use would it get as a ceremonial robe? Once I put it on my mannequin, it really made sense as some kind of ceremonial robe/shawl. But what would have been, something religious?


The Dreamstress said...

What an interesting piece! My solution to stuff like this is to give it to my students as a research project. It's amazing what they find out!

My best guess is that it is late 19th, early 20th century, and was a decor item. Possible a type of curtain, or went over a door? Those Victorians went in for some wacky and completely illogical decorative items!

But really, I've never seen anything quite like it. I'll let you know if I do!

Carol@Dandelion Vintage said...

I thought it could be some sort of window treatment. But there is no rod pocket, no hooks, so signs of there ever being hooks or clips on it, so I don't know how it could have been hung on a window, or over a large door. You're right in thet it is Victorian. The fabric and embroidery are definately old.
Thanks for your input.

leah said...

it does kinda look like something to be worn, but the under fabric is perplexing. if it really was ceremonial, they would worry about the inside of it too i would think.

i also have a 'what the heck is it' coming up in a day or two. stop by and give me your thoughts.

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Mary Rose said...

My guess would that it would be a mantel for some sort of side table. You would lift up the top later of the table, place the ribbons there and then replace the top of the table, leaving the sides to hang down (kind of like a bed skirt.) There would only be three sides because one side would be pressed up against the wall. But that's just a guess.