Traditional Textiles of South India

January 20, 2014

A museum is a visual & experiential library.  A museum presents a culture through its various arts.  A visit is always an eye-opener and we find out things that we did not even know that we don’t know.

Kurinji Textiles
On this trip to a quasi-museum outside Chennai I first encountered the spectacular Kurinji weavings of Tamil Nadu. (Kurinji is a mountain forest region in Tamil Nadu).

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The Real Madras Handkerchief

And first saw the textile that became a popular trade textile the “RMHK” or the Real Madras Handkerchief!

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Applique Patchwork Art

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And of course there were the fabulous cotton saris with their classic color combinations that I have loved and worn for decades. One such sari I had acquired in 1987 for a third of my salary (Rs. 2700 per month (US$ 55) which was really good for that time)  is still very treasured and was last worn as recently as a week ago).

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Over the years of buying directly from weavers at exhibitions, I have built warm relationships with many weavers from across the country.  One weaver  – who is from Kanchipuram – one of the sari weaving centres in India –  always brings me a little gift: an auspicious packet of red vermillion powder from a temple in his village – a gift of blessings from the Goddess. It is touching that he should bring me this prasad year after year!

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Complex Hand operated Looms

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Even after two decades of love for Indian textiles, it is delightful to find two entire categories that had completely escaped my notice until now! It feels refreshing to know that I do not really know all there is to know – the pending discoveries hidden away in the future, give me something to look forward to !

ANTIQUE QASHQAI SHEKARLU PERSIAN RUG

 

jm

Jan 2014

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