Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Banjara works are among the world’s most attractive textiles – the colors, the stitches the patterns and their dazzling embellishments are put together in an eye-catching manner. Almost every collector will admit to being enticed by Banjara work at some point or another.
The undetermined origin and history of these people adds to the enigma of these textiles.
But the one factor that always always slays me, is that this incredible beauty is created amidst very frugal lives!
Joss Graham recently held an exhibition of Banjara textiles at his gallery in London. This is a note about my visit.
Joss first came across the Banjaras on his first trip to India in 1970. As he stepped onto a bus while visiting the Ajanta Caves, there were two Banjara boys sitting opposite him singing to one another, antiphonally and they had one scarf wrapped around both heads. These boys offered Joss some of the oranges they were eating and the interactions with the Banjara people began.
Over time Banjara textiles came to his attention and soon occupied an important place in his heart.
In June 2016, Joss Graham held an exhibition at his gallery in London alongside a book launch for “Textiles of the Banjara” by Charlotte Kwon and Tim McLaughlin.
Here are some of the textiles he presented:
On my travels to villages, I usually see many beautiful textiles but more often than not, the quality available of material follows the statistical ‘bell curve’ with most pieces being average and only a few being stunning. And it is up to me to sieve out the good pieces from the others.
But here at the gallery it was different. I stood amidst material that had been selected after 45 years of training his eye on Banjara textile art! And for every piece he did select specifically for the exhibition, there must have been a hundred others that did not make the mark.
In Hindi there is a saying ” Heerey ki keemat Johari hi jaanta hai” The true value of a a diamond is known only to the Jeweler. In the world of art, one becomes a Johari by training one’s eye – by looking at hundreds and thousands of pieces and teaching one’s eyes to discern between the good and the extraordinary.
And here I was, looking at the selection resulting from 45 years of eye-training!!!
The textiles dazzled but this revelation dazzled me even more!
The set of textiles at the gallery was a concentrated crystal resulting from years of processing vast and diluted offerings.
Fortunately, these pieces are also on sale and I was able to acquire one for myself.
So if you are in London – do go and have a look at the exhibition – it is not to be missed!
All textiles except the last one are from Joss Graham’s collection