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

To Choose or to Not Choose! Innovation in Swat Hazara Textiles

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

But our artist in the early-mid 1900s from the Hazara region wanted to go everywhere.

How was she supposed to choose? So, she decided to NOT choose.

She used BOTH.

What luxury – to have your cake and eat it too!

I am talking about a dilemma she must have faced when she was faced with two options of techniques to make her shawl pretty – block printing and embroidery.

And she decided to employ both techniques!

The unusual thing about this though, that block printing is not at all common in this region.

So this must have been an experiment and a fairly new innovation as can be seen from the roughness of the print.

Presenting here – the ONLY block print PLUS embroidery example that I have seen from the Swat / Hazara / North West Frontier Province area.

The print is used to define the borders of the motifs and then the rest is filled in using thread.

But black thread embroidery is also used to create borders instead of using yet another time-saving block. Maybe blocks were expensive and used only for the main motifs?

IMG_7610 IMG_7611 IMG_7614

This is so unusual and rare!

There have got to be more textiles out there of this type – for once the investment in a block has been made, it is used over hundred of prints. If you come across any, do share the pics & the info!

See more photos of the shawl on WOVENSOULS.COM in the Textile Gallery.


March 2014

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To choose or not to choose

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