Textiles, Craft & Design

The Textile, Craft & Design collection includes important examples of textile traditions such as patolas, chintz hangings, kalamkaris, pahari rumaals, phulkaris, and kanthas, alongside many other techniques and styles. It is also home to a variety of decorative arts in furniture, design and jewellery that demonstrate the exquisite skill and technical expertise of the artisans involved in these disciplines.

From Indian muslin to Pashmina shawls, Tipu Sultan’s throne, and customised jewellery for royal dynasties – India has long held a reputation for fine textiles and exquisite craftsmanship in the decorative arts.

Looking at both the more often exclaimed over luxurious design products, as also lesser known craft traditions, this section of MAP’s collection produces an overview of the subcontinent’s design inheritance by showcasing textiles and costumes, as also other objects of ritual and domestic utility, decorative arts, furniture and jewellery. A key focus of this department, is to consider the ways in which these artistic traditions have enjoyed a rich history of commerce, far more than other art forms in general; especially textiles which have always been important commodities in trading.

The fabric art tradition is believed to have had a long and distinguished history in the Indian sub-continent; and between the 15th and 19th centuries, the country also had a thriving export market as Indian textiles grew very popular in Europe. Initially used for ritual and court wear, or wall and bed hangings, they gained currency as clothing material with time. MAP’s extensive collection of textiles features a variety of techniques and designs, with intricate needlework, rich imagery and complex compositions; including sumptuous silk patolas; outstanding chintz hangings; kalamkaris that exemplify the mastery of workmanship from the south- eastern Coromandel coast; beautiful examples of embroidered kantha work from Western India; exquisite Pahari rumaals; phulkaris from Punjab and a selection of brocades from Benares and Tamil Nadu, to name a few.

Outside of textiles, this section also hosts an exquisite collection of silver inlayed Bidriware; silver, copper and bronze wares from southern and western India; lamps; wooden objects and carved wooden furniture; that further demonstrate extraordinary skill and technical expertise.

The central objective of this section is to focus on aspects of design and craftsmanship. Through the display of these examples of commercially viable and functional forms, MAP aims to generate a discourse around knowledge systems, design, and labour; and going further, to map the inter-regional and inter-continental linkages that were established through the activities of trade.

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