materials & techniques: silk thread embroidery on handwoven silk-khadi fabric, in a hand-crafted teakwood box, internally painted with natural pigments of fuchsia, lined with a pure cotton handmade khadi paper, tinted with madder pigments on the back to emulate bloodstains, naturally stained embroidery floss in the colors of the Indian flag and embroidered in a pattern derived from Sanskrit text.
Chamba Rumals from ancient India are small hand-embroidered handkerchiefs that were made in the village of Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. They are adorned with dophar embroidery, which can be viewed from two perspectives; thus, the back of the rumal has the same embroidery form as the front. They illustrate stories and epics of the time. Reminiscent of the dophar technique, these recreations of the handkerchiefs draw a parallel with the way we see our history as well: from more than one perspective.
These stories tend to leave the women, who are instrumental in catalyzing change and revolution, in the background of historical documentation. These recreated Chamba Rumals are a re-telling of stories that bring to the foreground female voices and elucidate the intrinsic role that women played, and continue to play, in the Indian landscape.
This product was sold to raise money to support the primary education of the daughters of the women in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh (where this craft originates) who practice the craft of dophar embroidery to this day.
Rumals on view at the Gelman Gallery :
The wood box is made in the local teak wood and the embroidery into the wood is in the colors of the Indian flag to reiterate the locality of this issue, but the embroidery pattern itself is derived from Sanskrit but contemporized to bring to light the universality of this pertinent issue. The embroidery is based on a Sanskrit saying from old times which reveres and celebrates women to remind us that our scriptures and our past celebrated and respected women, and question why we are not continuing those traditions even today.
Video for the RISD Special Collections :