The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM

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

Daggers in the Heart – Textile Art to die for!

The Ain-i Akbari manuscript, a part of the Akbarnama volumes written by Abu’l-Fazl in 1621 documents various weapons used in the Mughal era.

Among the weapons described is the Jamdhar or straight-edged dagger.

Ain-i_Akbari_Weaponry

Jamdhars have handles so that they may be held firmly in the fist at the time of attack and may have 1, 2 or 3 points.

weapon

Ain-i_Akbari_Weaponry2

The manuscript is a monumental work that offers historical evidence and can captivate students of history for years.

But why am I addressing this topic here?

Because this weapon has made its way into Indian textiles a few centuries ago!!?!

Why?

Really. WHY?

I have been perplexed by this question ever since I laid my eyes on this motif in Phulkari Bagh embroideries.  Created in the Punjab region of undivided India,  these textiles are tokens of love and symbols of protection created by the mother, aunts and grandmothers of a girl over a period of a ozen years or more and gifted to a bride at her wedding.

So why would these gentle loving sweet maternal figures embroider a motif that is so antithetic to the spirit of the textile?

I have yet to find answers.  And a future trip to Punjab and long chats with old ladies is probably the most efficient way to get these.

The simplest answer would be that these are not motifs of weapons – but some other thing entirely such as wheat pods or flames or some marriage / family/ fertility related elements! Who knows!

Such an answer would put my mind at rest.

But in the meanwhile I cannot help but stare at the pictures of some of these rare textiles and note how similar they are to the Jamdhars depicted in the Ain-i Akbari.

ANTIQUE KHANJAR THIRMA BAGH PHULKARI TEXTILE

ANTIQUE KHANJAR THIRMA BAGH PHULKARI TEXTILE

PREVIEW ATI-545 KHANJAR THIRMA BAGH1

ATI-539 KHANJAR THIRMA BAGH11

ANTIQUE WEDDING THIRMA TEXTILE WITH RARE KHANJAR

ANTIQUE WEDDING THIRMA TEXTILE WITH RARE KHANJAR

[While I am no expert on weapons, it appears that the Khanjar [which is another term used to address these Baghs] is curved while the weapon that looks like our motif is the Jamdhar]

Until I meet with knowledgeable grandmas, the creators, who might be able to quench my curiosity – this question will remain. Much like a tiny dagger in the heart.

If any reader has any information please share it so that we nay all learn about this fantastic cultural art from the past!

jm

Jan 2014

Detailed images of the textiles shown above may be seen here on the wovensouls.com website.

2 comments on “Daggers in the Heart – Textile Art to die for!

  1. bolradhabol
    January 14, 2015

    Textile and khanjars… an unlikely duo! If you are proven right, it will be an interesting story to tell. I hope you get your answers soon

  2. wovensouls
    January 14, 2015

    yes @bolradhabol!! Let’s hope the answer to “how did this come to be” reveals itself to us!

I'd love to hear your view on this. Please comment below:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,067 other followers

ARCHIVES

TRANSLATE

EMAIL

jaina@wovensouls.com

ABOUT ME