Kerala is an Indian state known for its lush greenery, pristine waters and high level of literacy among men and women. Crafts in brass, grass and wood are well-known, but the number of practitioners is decreasing as the younger generation prefers to engage in more contemporary occupations.
The finely woven cotton handloom saris and unstitched two-piece dress sets called mundu-veshti in cream with coloured or golden borders are the hallmark of the refined dress sense of the people of Kerala. The body portion of the fabric is left plain. Cotton was exported to Egypt centuries ago - these trade relationships are believed to have influenced the choice of wearing white in Kerala as a customary practice, as is worn by men in the Middle East.
Arshad Kafeel from Uttar Pradesh assisted the process of creating exhibits by carving rectangular wooden blocks with Malayalam script in reverse so that, when printed, it would be read in the correct form. This was used for an innovative refashioning of the traditional dress using print and script on the body of the dress, by handblock printer Gopal Lal Barad from Sanganer.
One textile is printed with the words 'harivaraasanam viswamohanam / haridadheeswaram saraadhyapaadukam / arivimardhanam nityanarthanam / hariharaatmjam devamaashrayae'. It is a devotional invocation to the greatness of Ayyappa (the son of Shiva and Vishnu in the avatar of Mohini, the enchantress) saying, “Repository of Hari’s boons, Enchanter of the universe / Essence of Hari’s grace / He whose holy feet is worshipped /
He who kills enemies by good thought / He who daily dances the cosmic dance / Son of Hari and Hara / I take refuge in thee God”.
The second script is an ode to Kerala’s beauty: 'dhanadhaanya sasyalathaa / pulikitam manoharan / Keralteeram modakaram / nityaananda karam', which means “Kerala, which is bountiful in its riches, grains and lush vegetation, gives eternal happiness”.