The court costume of Sake Deen Mahomed

Contributed by Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Costume of Sake Deen Mahomed © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

This is a rare example of Western fashion influencing Eastern dress.Sake Deen Mahomed, who wore this costume, was born of minor nobility in India. He travelled to Ireland in the late eighteenth century where he met and married his wife, Jane Daly. They moved to London in the early nineteenth century where he opened Britain's first Indian restaurant, catering to Europeans who had worked in India. The restaurant lasted only a few years and in 1814 he and his wife moved to Brighton. Here he opened a steam bath business. The steam bath was a fashionable 'leisure' activity much like today's spas, which claimed to alleviate symptoms of ailments such as gout. Sake Deen added massaging to the steaming and was so successful he became the 'shampooing surgeon' to both King George IV and William IV. (The term 'shampooing' comes from a Hindi word meaning 'to rub'). Success was not to last and he died in 1851 penniless and chased by creditors. He is buried in St Nicholas' Church in Brighton.

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