Chaining the stitches together

HAND-EMBROIDERED

Chaining the stitches together

The fine thread work, intricate beadwork and creative designs of India cannot be compared with anything else in the world, for they are our living heritage. The statement might sound patriotic but it is the sole thought that comes to mind when one visits ‘Resurgence - An Exhibition of Classic Collection of Indian Embroideries’.

Just near the entrance of Hall No 11 inside IGNCA’s new building, the panels depict the rich textile heritage of India. Divided into mainly two forms - Zardozi and Aari, the embroideries displayed are an attempt by curator Asif Sheikh to research and revive Indian embroideries and textiles.

Keeping the concept of Karchob (the scroll frame) in mind Asif has put together around 100 works presenting exquisite embroideries done on fabrics which are not the usual choice. From the 200-year old Ajrak embroidery to a miniature and micro-miniature of Kutchi embroidery, every work is a masterpiece.

The Ramayan created in Kalamkari and hand-painted temple hangings catch the attention of the eye in the very first instance. Then there is the basic Kantha coverlets created with running stitch and beautifully woven net with Aari embroidery depicted through Mughal floral motif from Benaras.

An eyeopener are the frames showcasing Danka (with zardozi technique), Paisley (Aari Jali embroidery), Baroque Design (metal aari pitta), Aari French Knot, Silk Marodi and Gotta Patti, to name just a few! Each is an example of exemplary craftsmanship which endeavours to maintain high quality. “People say that this quality is not possible now but I feel that after becoming so technologically advanced why can’t we create what was available in 10th century India?” questions Asif who did his interior designing from NID, Ahmedabad but could not resist the pull towards embroideries.

“I would have been in 7th or 8th Std when I first tried my hand at embroidery. It was a running stich or a chain stitch. Once my neighbour asked me to teach her how to tie a
mirror and I did teach her. I was in Std IX then. Infact, even during my graduation years in Architecture, I used to work on garments and my professors used to look at me with scorn! Now they say ‘Its good you didn’t take our advice’,” shares Asif with a glint in his eyes as he holds a magnifying glass to show the micro-miniature embroidery done in fine chain stitch.  These frames are irreversible and show the neat lines of
embroidery at the back of the fabric.

His collection is creatively blended with the existing archives of IGNCA such as the Chamba Rumals - narrating religious ceremony and hunting scenes; and Kanchali and wall hangings embroidered in open chain stitch with mirror work.And in between the gallery one gets a translucent view through the white chikankari embroidered silk georgette sari, bandhani saree with aari work and a Kalamkari panel with aari work. All display Asif’s research work of 20 years in
reviving the art.

Resurgence exhibition is on display at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts till September 15.

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