Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery
Finding pieces that are ‘pure’ in their identity is always a pleasure.
But finding pieces that have some hybrid qualities adds excitement to the process of discovery of the character of that piece and the historical path taken by its placental culture.
To most knowledgeable people, the reasons for the anomalous elements may be known and for them these anomalies are not outside the character or identity expected of pieces belonging to that place + time.
But to me, a freshly recruited student of history, an anomaly or a hybrid element adds the edge of mystery & thrill.
So this is about my journey of learning about the Sikh period in Kashmir traversed on the steps of artworks.
A Kashmir Shawl Fragment
So a few months ago, in June in London, I ‘saw‘ Kashmir shawls for the first time at an auction preview. And then once the third eye opens, it notices everything. Soon enough I noticed a fragment that was in terrible shape but instead of curvilinear botehs it had irregular angular motifs.
A closer look:
To compare – below is the Shilpa & Praful Shah’s Kashmir shawl from the Tapi collection in Surat.
It is called the ‘Ranjit Singh Samadhi Shawl’ in which the boat of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s funeral is said to be depicted.
In my all-but-destroyed fragment do we see the shape of a boat or is it my imagination?
Maybe it is not a boat depiction at all – but character of the motifs is certainly like those from the Sikh-period Kashmir shawls – a good example of Hybrid Art.
In any case it led me through my first lesson in the history of Sikh-rule-in-kashmir.