Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stories on a Napkin – Chamba Rumal

Last week I visited an exhibition that left me thinking - sublime.

The Delhi Crafts Council has spent over a decade reviving the art of double sided embroidery on rumals in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. The exhibition titled Raas was the culmination of their efforts. These rumals are square cloths, used to cover platters as gifts for the deity or during marraiges for exchanging gifts.

This art form is the coming together of Pahari miniature painting tradition and do- rukha (double sided) embroidery done with silk floss. The speciality of this technique is that the embroidery appears to be the same on both sides of the cloth. The drawing for the embroidery is done by Pahari Miniature artists, usually men and the embroidery is done by women. No wonder then that the themes usually revolve around Lord Krishna.

What struck me most was the sophisticated use of colour, the diaphanous muslin on which the embroidery is done giving the whole piece a sacred glow and the manner in which the exhibition was mounted. Though very simple it was the details that made it special. Bamboo display structures, marigolds strings arranged at the entrance of the exhibition, grass mats on the floor, lovely muslin bags in which the pieces on sale were packaged.

It was no ordinary exhibition this, it uplifted my spirit in every sense of the word. I do not know about the commercial viability of this art form but in the spiritual realm its is truly priceless

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