Karthika Audinet on “Two Great Textile Traditions of Southern India,” Part 2, The Material She Brought In

This is Part 2 of a Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program given by Karthika Audinet

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on Saturday, April 18, 2015.  Karthika treated two traditions of fine craftsmanship of hand-loomed fabrics and hand-painted textiles from southern India.

She began with an illustrated lecture.  You can enjoy it at this link: https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/karthika-audinet-on-two-great-textile-traditions-of-southern-india-part-1-the-lecture/

I would advise you to do that if you have not.

Karthika had brought in a number of examples of Indian textiles.  As you will see, not all of them are examples of the “fine cottons” and “kalamkaris” treated in her lecture.

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They were arrayed on a table in the front of the room.  We are going to see all these pieces, individually, and often close-up, but come and walk around the tables with me to get a hint of what’s to come.
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OK.  That’s for appetizers, now on with the meal.

Karthika began to treat these pieces individually.  This is she speaking.

The first one was a Kalamkari piece done by Niranjan Jonnalagadda, a contemporary Kalamkari master craftsman. Niranjan’s grandfather’s work is exhibited in the V&A museum.

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(numbers are not always sequential)(click images for larger versions)

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Karthika: “I am wearing a dress made from a textile in this group.”

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Niranjan loves to write poetry. He was painting this on silk chiffon fabric. Although it was incomplete, I found the red and black strikingly graphic. I bought it and converted it into this simple top.

Details of this top.

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i21 is a silk temple sari with real gold zari. Offered to the goddess of a temple, these saris adorn the deity and are replaced frequently. Temples auction them off to devotees. This piece was bought by an old aunt of mine, who in turn gifted it to my mother. 

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i22 is a Kanchipuram silk sari from my Mother’s dowry. Woven in the 60s. It’s a lovely unusual combination of parrot green and salmon shot pink with very simple gold embellishment in the “pallav.”

(The pallav is the lose end of a sari.  It is the culmination of the weaver’s artistry, some thing like the ‘peace de resistance’, that proclaims the character of a sari.)

 

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Another Kanchipuram Silk with gorgeous emerald green and navy, with the temple spire pattern on the borders in serrated lines, and stripes in the pallav.

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i24 is a Kalakshetra sari. This was part of the revival movement after India’s independence. I bought this from a master weaver in Kanchipuram. Note the absence of gold, the rustic feel of the silk, and the beautiful jacquard pattern in ochre yellow contrasting with the pink-orange shot of the body.
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i25, below, is another Kanchipuram sari from my Mother’s dowry. I love the magenta and turquoise color combination and the checks.
Silk saris with checks in different sizes and designs are very typical of South India, and each little region within a state will have their own well defined identity through designs, stripes, checks and motifs.
Note how the magenta warp for the pallav has been added onto the turquoise warp of the body.
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Here is a typical single ikat Pochampally sari from Andhra Pradesh. Note the rich color combination of fuchsia and leaf green, and the typical serrated temple spire and peacock motifs.
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i27, below, is a beautiful Bomkai Sari from Orissa.  I wanted to show you the difference between Andhra and Oriya Ikat.
Typical Oriya motifs are fish, circles with geometric designs in them depicting the Rudraksh seeds used for prayer necklaces , conch shells and human figures.
Note the pattern below based on the rice powder Rangolis made by women outside their houses, and the small supplementary weft circles in the body
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This is a Baluchari Sari from Bengal. Balucharis are known for their depiction of mythology in their Pallavs. This one depicts the abduction of Sita in the Ramayana.
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i29 is a block printed silk sari by master craftsman, Mukesh. His specialty is combining different blocks to create patterns, and the use of exquisite base fabrics that are often traditional hand woven saris.
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Here is another Mukesh. The base is a cotton with zari hand loomed fabric from Mangalagiri,Andhra Pradesh. The large central motif is a combination of just a few blocks that have been cleverly manipulated
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i31 is a brocade silk sari that I bought from weavers living in the outskirts of Benaras.
These traditional weavers used to weave with draw looms before the use of jacquards.
Today, they work with Rahul Jain to revive Safavid velvets and lampas.
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I want to share three more unique textiles. I know I am wandering off to the rest of India, but these are irresistible!
This is Mashru from Gujarat, a glazed satin made on simple four harness looms, using ingenious drafting of threads, mixing silk or rayon warp with cotton weft, with vibrant stripes.
These fabrics are used by women from certain tribes to make their blouses.
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This is Chikan embroidery from Uttar Pradesh. Typically done on fine cotton, white on white.
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i34 is one fourth of a large Paisley shawl that I found in a shop in New Delhi. I couldn’t resist the scale and the dynamic yet graceful lines.
 
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The last piece of the day was a bit of a surprise.  Louise Shelley took off the jacket she was wearing that came from my firm.
This was part of a limited edition that I had made using a fine herringbone hand woven fabric lined with hand woven Mangalagiri cotton, block printed with polka dots!
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Karthika answered questions and ended her session.
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The audience moved to the front tables to examine this material.
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My thanks to Karthika for this fine program, for permitting me to fashion this virtual version of it and for her considerable assistance, both as it was being built and as she edited it, after.

And a long-belated thanks to Frank Petty,

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who has for years done a great deal of the set-up required for these Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs.  (He also likely does the tear down after we’re gone.  🙂 )

One thing more.  As I write this sentence, the S Street buildings that have been the Textiles Museum’s home until the move to the GWU campus, has sold for a very good price.  Karthika’s program is one of the last Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning held here in these old TM buildings.

I walked around a few of its rooms today, seeing that it has been restored to a mode more like a residence.  You could sense a trace of Mr. Myers and his family living here.

I hope you have enjoyed and learned from Karthika’s solidly-based program.  She is another speaker who is not just a “talker,” but has performed some of the craft skills about which she spoke.

R. John Howe

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