Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery
So in my collecting habits, I am like a butterfly … go after whatever entices the heart or the eye.
Most of the time the pieces that allure fall within a group of folk art categories. But sometimes a piece that I know nothing about falls into my lap and only after that do I learn about it.
It is in this manner that I have come to learn about the Kashida embroidery of Dhaka the capital of current day Bangladesh.
While kantha was done by women in the region for domestic use, Kashida (or Cossida in the documents of British Raj) was done for commercial purposes.
The work was mostly monochromatic and done in Muga silk – a very prized variety of silk on either silk or cotton base cloth using the chain stitch.
This type of work probably has some connection to the kashida embroidery of Kashmir though the final result looks very different.
Though the history and dating of the origins of Kashida work in pre-partition (pre-1947) Bengal is unknown, it is said that this work may have been introduced to the region in the 9th century.
Produced commercially, these pieces were exported to Basra in Iraq & Jedda for the use of Hajjis.
Arabs used these as turbans or a part of their costume and some also made their way to Sumatra.
These were popularly traded until the early 1900s but the costs of production led to the decline of this craft,
As a collector, I wonder why these are not as commonly seen as textiles of a similar vintage from other parts of India such as the Phulkaris of Punjab or the embroideries of Kathiawad.
Maybe the numbers produced were lower? Maybe the survival rates are lower for silk?
Or maybe I have just been ignorant and not “seen” these until now…
That’s okay – for it is the journey of discovering new types of old arts that has entertained and stimulated the mind and taught me a bit about the history of Eastern India!