Pakistani textile ‘treasures’ to be on display in New York
* Exhibition to feature textiles created by near forgotten, endangered embroidery techniques
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Pakistani textile ‘treasures’ will be on display at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art when an exhibition presenting an array of fine hand-stitched embroidery from the subcontinent opens on December 12, and will remain open until May 11 2009.
According to the museum, the 60 embroidered textiles from Pakistan and India on view are drawn from one of the world’s finest collections of South Asian textiles, that of the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, and includes ceremonial scarves made with painstaking detail, clothing that is embellished with mirrors and metallic thread, and vibrant patterned domestic fabrics, ranging in date from the 18th century to today.
Techniques: The exhibition titled ‘Colour and Light’ also features a number of textiles created by near forgotten or otherwise endangered embroidery techniques. The inexorable drive towards urbanisation, the desire for mainstream fashions, and the increasing availability of inexpensive, machine-made textiles are endangering the finer forms. “The intricate patterns, the refraction of light off silk threads, the subtle colour changes, and the striking juxtapositions of shapes - these characteristics have enchanted visitors to the region for more than two thousand years,” according to Becky Bloom, Assistant Curator, Rubin Museum of Art.
The museum says the ethnic and geographic diversity of present-day India and Pakistan is reflected in a variety of decorative motifs, colour combinations, materials, patterns, and stitching techniques used to embellish cloth.
In this way, textiles serve as indicators of community or religious affiliations. Embroideries created in keeping with Islamic traditions, for example, are frequently identified by precise and complex geometric patterns. Hindu textiles, on the other hand, often feature naturalistic or highly stylised representational motifs. Embellishments used on all types of textiles include beetle-wing casings, seeds, silk tassels, beads, and metal ornaments.