The exhibit explores the hand woven textile craft Panja Dari, examining the history of the textile tradition, its transformations in the 20th century and its position in modern India today. The design patterns, techniques of dyeing and weaving are analysed to highlight the variety, complexity and adaptability of the handmade.
The value of textiles in Indian society transcends mere economics, and infiltrates philosophy, literature and storytelling.
Art historian Stella Kramrisch notes. “In the Rig Veda and the Upanishads, the universe is envisioned as a fabric woven by gods. The cosmos, the ordered universe is one continuous fabric with its warp and woof making a grid pattern."
Hence, the importance of wholeness not only of the uncut garment, like the sari or the dhoti, but also of the cloth woven all in one piece.
The Maharaja of Jaipur was among the first to introduce dari weaving to Jails in India.The aim of introducing dari weaving in prisons was firstly to improve the conditions of prisoners. By teaching prisoners weaving skills, jails ensured that prisoners could spend their time well and have a chance to earn a means of living after release.
The dari industries carried out in jails also had a second aim of making prisons more economically viable. While Jaipur Jail prospered under the patronage of Maharaja Sawai Ramsingh, other jails in India were controlled by the British army.
By the late 19th century prisons known for their fine daris included those at Banaras, Allahbad, Luknow, Fatehgarh, Agra, Ambala, Hissar, Jhelum, Multan, Sialkot, Ratnagiri, Gulbara, etc.
Striped dari is the most ubiquitous Indian dari. Indian paintings and literary texts are replete with illustrations of these daris. The technique and popularity of striped daris are closely related. Striped daris are relatively easy to make and are normally first attempts made by an inexperienced weaver to expand his skill.
Since rendering curves of scrolling vines and blossom carpet designs were difficult to reproduce in flat weave, the designs were simplified and stylized for daris. Daris usually retained the repeat element of the scrolling vine and blossom carpet and the vertical mirror image symmetry of the classical carpet design.
In this project Bheda restructures the panja dari loom by changing its fundamental geography and technique. The re-engineered loom has a curvilinear serpentine structure which instead of creating a fabric that conforms to the perpendicular coordinates of a traditional loom creates a radical weave where warp and weft no longer conform to traditional principles.
Kamlesh Jain, Arihant Arts
Dinesh Jain, Arihant Arts
All craftsmen at Arihant Arts, Jaipur
Brijendra Rajpal, Ambika Exports
Jaipur Central Jail
Mr.Ramswaroop Vijayvargia, Art Age Pvt. Ltd.
Ahuja Shyam, Meera Ahuja, Mridula Maluste, and David Desouza. Dhurrie: Flatwoven Rugs of India. Mumbai: India Book House in Association with Shyam Ahuja, 1999. Print.
Chaldecott, Nada. Dhurries: History, Technique, Pattern, Identification. London: Thames & Hudson, 2003. Print.
Mcgowan, Abigail. "Convict Carpets: Jails and the Revival of Historic Carpet Design in Colonial India." The Journal of Asian Studies 72.02 (2013): 391-416. Web.