Delhi Museum Exhibit on Sacred Textiles


Dec 10, DELHI (HPI) — Showcasing fifty of the finest pieces from the Textile and Art of the People of India (TAPI) collection, the National Museum in Delhi will display this exhibit until December 28, 2005. The news release explains the collection: "Having spent two decades piecing together our rich material past, Praful and wife Shilpa Shah's TAPI collection includes largely unseen original Indian heirloom textiles, recovered from Asia, Africa and America - continents where 'sacred' Indian cloths were preserved and valued for their ceremonial, religious and magical power.

The exhibition includes treasured handlooms designed for foreign buyers. Like the gaja or elephant patola, woven using the double ikat technique with elephants and tigers signifying wealth and power. Sourced from Gujarat, the Dutch offered them to South Asian kings in exchange for trading privileges. Or, the 'maa' cloths sent to Indonesia for ceremonial use; radiocarbon testing dates these to the13th century.

There are also fragile hand-blocked fabrics excavated from Fustat, Egypt - considered the earliest surviving Indian textiles in the world. Most exquisite of all are the DuRukha Kashmiri shawls that warmed Empress Josephine and Queen Victoria's shoulders."

Jasleen Dhamija, textile historian comments about the TAPI collection, "It moved me to tears when I first saw it, even after 50 years of being involved in India's textiles. People wouldn't trade spices for gold, silver, nor any other commodity, they wanted Indian power cloths to keep away evil spirits, heal, protect and foretell the future."

In Nigeria to this day the article says that the Madras check is considered a gift from a Goddess, a measure of wealth and status. The textile industry is still the second largest employer in India.


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