Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Sometimes, or rather, in my case it is many times, I buy blind.
i.e. I buy not quite knowing what it is that I am buying.
The visual is my only guiding light. And the analysis of what it must be and what went into making it based only on the visual can only take me this far in evaluating a piece when I have zero knowledge about the type. The intrigue leads to a quest for information and over time I begin to understand the piece. But until then, I remain blind in all respects barring the visual aspect.
So, I buy blind many times … simply because there are too many genres of traditional art accumulated until this point in time, even if only within India, for anyone to know everything about everything.
And so, I often buy in ignorance. And enjoy the bliss of the visual.
And at such times, eventually I always pay the price of nervousness … who knows whether this thing is even a thing! Who knows whether it is worth half of the money I paid. Who knows whether there are hundreds of these everywhere. Ignorance is expensive…. the mind stays restless and uneasy until some supporting data is found.
When the buy turns out to be a mistake, I have to quickly develop memory problems, hide the piece and forget my mistake. But when it so happens that I am on the right path, it is a delight!
Today I stumbled upon two mistakes that I had hidden away out of sight.
When I saw them today lurking behind some other things, I was struck with a question for the ‘me’ of 2005 – “why”.
Why did you get these, J?
If only I could laugh at my mistakes! The gujju in me can only cringe at having spent any money on this!
In a similar moment awhile ago I got a textile that I was ignorant about but was a visual treat.
It turned out to be an Anatolyan Cicim Tent Divider and continues to delight me even after 2 months.
Today I got yet another piece that I do not quite understand.
The thought in my head is that it is Picasso-ish. I don’t really “get” that type of art. But as a phulkari textile it was appealing and irresitible.
The doubts will come, the research will come, and enlightenment will come. In which direction that enlightenment will be, I do not want to worry about yet. Am just taking pleasure in the visual – wondering … what was she thinking when she planned a drawing like this? What are those motifs – are those motifs? As a novice it looks like the plain-golden has cutouts covering the striped layer beneath… but is this the artist’s intent?
It will be fun to figure out the symbols & meanings.
And the best way would be to take a trip to Punjab… Must meet the grand old ladies who are the custodians of the answers to all my questions. Must do this before that generation passes away!
And about the “why” question… with respect to this this textile I can only hope that the future does not bring with it this thorny question!