The Art Blog by Wovensouls

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

Royal Loin Cloths of Ceylon

Even ordinary people ponder over subjects like legacy. I spend a significant number of thoughts on who should inherit my beautiful things such as my saris to ensure that they live on. But this subject is peripheral to my life and does not take up more than 5 minutes of my time per annum.

For royalty however, the inheritance of the throne and the kingdom are factors that are of paramount importance in structuring their life strategies.  Epic wars are fought between brothers for such inheritances. And not just death, even life  revolves around this subject as wives are selected keeping in mind the genetics of heirs that will be born through the marriage.

Procreation, therefore, is perhaps one of the most important responsibilities of royalty.

For, in doing so, they fulfill their duty to their ancestors.

So this obligation of  carrying on the lineage is awarded recognition by building little ceremonies to elevate the status of the various processes and elements involved.

And ceremonies demand beautiful things that create an enhanced sensory experience. And that brings us to the subject that is of interest to textile addicts!

While many ceremonial textiles exist, the most unexpected of these, is the decorated cloths for the royal loins.

Seen in the National Museum of Colombo, these royal loin cloths, created with beautifully woven cotton were called Diyakacchi.

While these  were common in the region and the rest of the Indian peninsula until a few decades ago, the common man wore plain ones in handwoven cotton.

These highly decorated ones were created especially for royalty to be worn during bathing.

Presenting some loin cloths used by royalty and elite – from the museum in Colombo.

Royal Loin Cloth #1

A Rare Diyakacci with 10 verses of Subhasitaya sewn onto the base cloth.

IMG_1714IMG_1715IMG_1716IMG_1717IMG_1719IMG_1720IMG_1721

Loin Cloth #2

A rare design with shorts attached.

IMG_1723.jpgIMG_1724IMG_1725IMG_1726IMG_1727IMG_1730

Loin Cloth #3

IMG_1731IMG_1732IMG_1733IMG_1736IMG_1737IMG_1738IMG_1739IMG_1741IMG_1742

 

Through this first exposure to Sri Lankan textiles, am beginning a new journey of exploration!

 

jm

May 2016

All the pieces shown above are from the National Museum of Colombo, Sri Lanka

 

 

 

 

 

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