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Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Embellishments in Traditional Asian Textiles

Strange & interesting bits and pieces have been used as textile embellishments.

In the decade of collecting textiles, I find that non-textile embellishments are most common in South Asian Hilltribes and in the Gypsy tribals of the Indian subcontinent.

Tribal Embellishments

1. FUNCTIONALITY

The reasons for adding embellishments vary.

1a. Value Addition

For obvious reasons, thread using precious metal content such as gold and silver are often found in silk textiles used by Royals, Noblemen and wealthy traders from Indonesia, Malaysia & parts of India. The addition of gold thread is a declaration of grandeur and high position in society.

ANTIQUE BANARASI SARI WITH REAL ZARI,

1b. Distinguishing an Individual

Grooms of the Lambani tribe are made to wear a textile adornment embellished with lead and other materials to distinguish him from the other males in the groom’s party at the wedding. Others of the marriage party wear textile embroideries but the piece that marks the groom is heavily adorned with metal and other bits.

20110508_0227s

Lead & Cotton Decoration to be hung from the groom’s waist.

This is an example that comes to mind immediately but I am sure other examples can be found.

1c. Symbolism

While several embellishments are used simply to add beauty & make the piece attractive, others are used fro their cultural symbolism.

Cowrie shells: Prosperity & Fertility

Coins: Prosperity

Cloves: Health

While the reasons for their inclusion in the crafting of the textile vary, the result of their inclusion is the same: they make the textile artwork unique & more beautiful.

Presenting below a visual journey that offers a glimpse into the various embellishments that were common to regional traditional textiles in Asia.

2. RANGE OF MATERIALS

2a. Precious Metal Strip

In this Tatibin Ship Cloth the metal strips have been taken out … but a few bits can still be seen.

_DSC0941-2

Sumatra, Indonesia


2b. Three-Dimensional Padding.

Unique Padded embroidery creating a 3-d effect on wool tie-dye Ludhis. These pieces are about 2 cm tall.

ANTIQUE RABARI LUDHI  SHAWL

Vagadia Rabari Tribal, Gujarat.

2c. Mirrors

Mostly in Western India but also seen sometimes in textiles of the North West Frontier Province

ANTIQUE DOWRY BAG WITH MIRRORWORK, KUTCH GYPSY TRIBE, INDIA

Kutch Tribe, Gujarat

2d. Cowrie Shells

ANTIQUE NAGA LOIN CLOTH

Naga Tribe, India

NAGA WARRIOR TRIBE DANCE, NAGALAND, NORTH EAST INDIA

ANTIQUE LUDHI VEIL

Ahir community / Rabari Tribe, Gujarat

2e. Buttons

PWO KAREN TRIBAL SINGING SHAWL USED DURING RITUALS

Pwo Karen tribe, Northern Thailand

 

2f. Tin embellishments

VINTAGE YAO CAP FOR CHILD

Yao Hilltribe baby’s cap

 

VINTAGE AKHA BREASTCLOTH

Yao Hilltribe Breastcloth with Tin embellishments

 

2g. Gold & Silver Thread

ANTIQUE BANARASI SARI WITH REAL ZARI

Banarasi Sari with Silver thread

 

2h. Job’s Tear Seeds

HandBag - antique tribal textile HILLTRIBE TEXTILE FRAGMENT BAG

Karen Textile with Job’s Tear Seeds

 

VINTAGE KAREN JACKET, NORTHERN THAILAND

ANTIQUE AKHA TRIBAL JACKET

AKha tribe, Northern Thailand

2i. Glass & Plastic Beads

ANTIQUE IBAN DAYAK  SKIRT JACKET

Iban Beaded Bridal Skirt Set

ANTIQUE DAYAK IBAN BEAD HEADDRESS

Iban Headband, Sarawak

ANTIQUE BATAK ULOS WITH HUMAN FIGURES & BEADS

Batak Ulos Shoulder Cloth

2j. Cow Dung

Used as a base for painting on canvas, cow dung is used extensively in the villages of India as a basic plaster for home floors & walls. Although this is not strictly an embellishment, it is unusual and deserves a place in this note.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Warli Tribal Textile

2k. Beetle Elytra

Of all the beautiful things used to embellish textiles, none is as strange or perhaps as attractive as the elytra (wings) of Beetles. Valued for their iridescence, the wings are sewn onto hilltribe textiles from Northern Thailand  & used to bejewel royal textiles in India.

MughalTurbanCloth

Mughal Turban Cloth (National Museum Delhi)

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 10.49.21 am

Screenshot of an article on Hali.com. Click for the original article from Hali.com featuring this muslin cloth from the V&A collection


2l. Cloves, Gems and more

– Cloves are woven into beaded textile adornments or home items. Their original purpose apparently was to ensure the good health of the home and ward off evil.

– Kundan or gem studded textiles are seen in traditional Indian textiles in antique royal and not-surprisingly contemporary traditional textiles made for the wealthy!

(Pictures to follow sometime soon – once I get back home to my archives of photos)
And finally, going a whole yard further in embellishments is the Naga textile Art that may be seen here.

***

There is so much to be enjoyed & explored in the art & craft of textiles that I doubt that I will ever feel satiated or bored with this category!

jm

Sept 2014

ALL TEXTILES SHOWN ABOVE (UNLESS OTHERWISE MENTIONED) ARE A PART OF MY COLLECTION AND MAY BE VIEWED AT WOVENSOULS.COM

By Jaina Mishra

By wovensouls

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