A textile gallery, the first gallery in the city, was opened in April 2010. It illustrates “various techniques of textile manufacturing, regional collections and traditional Indian costumes”.
Matrika Design Collaborative is currently designing the museum’s Indian miniature painting gallery. The content developed for the gallery will be converted into Braille text and tactile labels for the blind with help from designers, fabricators and consultants from the Helen Keller Institute.
Humsafar – The Companion
The story of Indian textile based on the CSMVS collection
The history of Indian textiles dates back to ancient times as is evidenced by archaeological and literary records.
The upper body is covered with heavy adornment and the lower body with a short skirt or sari fastened by a waistband.
The Yaksha is wearing an elaborate ushnisha (turban) with a crescent knot, closely pleated dhoti (unstitched lower garment) and uttariya (unstitched upper garment).
Copy of a painting from Ajanta caves
Ajanta paintings are an important visual reference to study the dressing style of the people at that time. People wore both stitched and unstitched garments. Both men and women wore fine richly decorated costumes, embellished with different varieties of calico printing and bandhani (tie and dye) techniques.
Since the 13th century, painted and block printed textiles with mordant resist have been a significant trading commodity from India’s Coromandel Coast (South India) and Gulf of Cambay (Kutch, Gujarat) to the South East Asia, Central Asia (Egypt) and the West.
Captive Gardabhilla presented before Kalakacharya
Muni Kalkacharya is wearing a fine muslin unstitched garment while Gardabhilla and the soldier are wearing block printed cloth.
Folio from an illustrated manuscript of Anwar-i-Suhayli
The period from 15th to 17th centuries witnessed an intense demand for woven silk and embroidered textiles.
Observe variety of costumes, especially chakdar (four pointed) jama of one of the ladies.
Port of Surat
The port of Surat played a vital role in the trade connection with the Middle East from the 9th century which continued until the 19th century. The port of Surat was a boarding point for the Hajj pilgrims.
By the end of the 17th century, Surat became an important trade centre for cotton textile and continued to be so until modern times.
Gandhiji and Charkha (1942)
The history of Indian textiles took a significant turn at the time of the freedom movement in the early 20th century when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi started the Khadi Movement.
Due to industrialization in England in the 19th century, hand-crafted Indian textiles suffered a severe setback. Britain used the Indian market to sell cheaper machine made textiles even though cotton was exported mainly from India. Imported mill-spun yarn and cloth started coming to India. The British made it obligatory to cultivate cotton and indigo for their mills in UK.
The label of the textile mill urges Indian citizens to buy goods manufactured in India and to boycott imported merchandise.
Though khadi became an integral part of the Swadeshi Movement, it did not help much to revive the condition of handloom crafts as the emphasis was on Indian made textiles not the handloom. The Indian mills were efficiently fulfilling the demand of Swadeshi textiles.
Earthquake Summary, 2002
A unique addition to the CSMVS collection are textiles that were displayed in an exhibition called Resurgence – 2002. These textiles were produced by various craftsmen in and around Bhuj, Gujarat as an expression of the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that the region experienced.
The Kanchipuram sari received its name from the old temple town of the same name in Tamil Nadu. The ground of this sari has checkered pattern in gold. It has a characteristic broad border and heavily brocaded pallu with floral creepers, elephants and peacocks.
Zabla and Topi of Jamsetji Tata (1839 – 1904)
This dress was made for Jamsetji Tata, the founder of the Tata Empire for his sixth day ceremony after birth. The ceremony was celebrated at Navsari on 8th March, 1839. The young baby was named Jamset after his great grandfather. According to family records the dress was made of silk which was hundred years old at that time.
Kunchi – Infant’s Cap
The kunchi comes under the heirloom textile which is used from generation to generation in a Maharashtrian family at the time of the naming ceremony of the child. The tradition is on the verge of extinction.
This Kunchi was stitched by Indu Nene for her son in 1962 for his naming ceremony. It was also worn by her grandson in 1993 at the time of his naming ceremony. This kunchi was gifted to the museum in the year 2013. The family heirloom textiles gifted by her also includes baby bedspreads and textiles used for religious ceremonies in her family.
There is a rich tradition of handmade baby bedspreads all over India. They are commonly made by joining small old cotton fabric pieces as they are soft and comfortable.
The stage of adolescence is an important stage in the passage of life. This is the time when the child begins its formal learning.
Amongst the Parsis, Navjote is a ceremony to initiate the child into the Zoroastrian religion.
Embellishments made of precious jari wire wound around the thread and other metals, viz badla, zik, tiki, chalak, salma, kangri. This kind of work is known as zardozi for which Surat is well known since medieval times.
Uttariya and Sovle
Unstitched garments are considered auspicious and pure and therefore used in religious ceremonies even in present times.
Leaving behind the mischievous and carefree childhood, we now enter the world of grihastha (householder). A householder represents the family as well as the community, and performs social responsibilities by participating in rituals and ceremonies celebrating life. Textiles are an important part of these celebrations.Marriage is an important milestone for a householder and every religion, region and community has its own textiles associated with marriage ceremonies. Marriages are very colourful in India with red and yellow being important colours. Red symbolizes hope and a new beginning and, yellow symbolizes happiness as well as knowledge. While leaving her maiden life, along with the sweet memories, the bride takes with her some textiles as heirlooms, wrapped in blessings and the love of her parents and dear ones. This is how traditional textiles are passed on from generation to generation as a symbol of love and care.
An essential part of the Maharashtrian wedding, paithani sari got its name after the Paithan town in Aurangabad, Maharashtra state. Paithan (old Pratishthan) was a well-known trade centre in ancient times. These saris are hand woven from very fine silk thread. The unique specialty of the paithani is its border and pallu that are generally in contrast with the sari’s butidar or plain ground. The jari based pallu has pattern woven in silk. A special dhoop-chav (light-shade) effect is achieved by bringing two different coloured threads together during the process of weaving
No Maharashtrian wedding trousseau is complete without the paithani sari and shela (Stole), the best the family can afford. These then become treasured heirlooms, preserved and worn by generations, fragrant with memories. Generally shela is passed from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law as a symbol of transferring the responsibility of a household.
Gharcholu – wedding sari
This type of traditional gharcholu sari is worn by Hindu and Jain merchant communities of Gujarat at the time of marriage. It is presented to the bride by her mother-in-law. Gharcholu is woven in very fine silk or cotton and can be identified with its grid pattern either done in bandhani (tie and dye) or jari.
Kutch and Saurashtra are the main centres for this type of work.
Patola is a popular attire and every bride in Gujarat desires to wear a patola for her wedding. The technique of weaving is known as ikat. The term ‘ikat’ comes from the Malay-Indonesian expression ‘mangikat’, meaning to bind, knot or wind around. Patola sari is preferably worn by the mother of the bride in Gujarat at them time of the marriage ceremony.
The uniqueness of patola weaving is that the yarns are first dyed according to the desired design and then woven.
The red colour symbolizes desire and passion. Red is also auspicious because it reflects emotional and fertility-related qualities, thus making it a suitable colour for brides and newly married women.
Tanchoi, symbolic of the heyday of the Parsi community of the 19th century developed as an Indo-Chinese textile along with the gara. Around 1856 the first Indian Baronet Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy sent three weavers from the Joshi family of Surat to the master weaver Chhoi in Shanghai, to learn the art of the Chinese silk weaving of a particular type. When they returned after acquiring a considerable command over this art, they bore the name of their master Chhoi. The material woven by them was called tanchoi.
With the introduction of power loom and change in fashion tanchoi weaving went out of vogue in the early 20th century.
Akho Garo Sari
This sari belonged to the family of poet Ardeshir Khabardaar (1881-1953).
Garo has become an identity for Parsi women. It is worn on special occasions as well as at marriages. Appreciative of Chinese embroidery, Parsi traders bought embroidered silks for their families and placed orders for embroidered sari borders, saris, blouses and pantaloons. The embroidery was worked on a variety of Chinese silks.
Over time, the word garo (from the Gujarati word for a sari) was associated with the Chinese embroidered sari.
Kamiz and salwar
This marriage dress of a Punjabi bride is fully embellished with gota and sitara (spangles) work on self designed satin silk. The design comprises of floral and geometrical patterns. The waist of the salwar is wide in keeping with the fashion of dheela (loose) pyjama of the era and region.
Odhani is the most elegant part of the traditional costume of the women of India. It is a fine piece of cloth, generally decorated along the borders and the pallu occasionally with floral butis all over on the ground. Loosely covering her head and passing round her shoulders, the odhani is a symbol of her modesty, as it thinly covers her feminine charm. Various kinds of odhanis are seen in miniature paintings giving us some idea of the way it was draped by women in the earlier centuries.
Preserved as family heirloom kashida or kasuti is a traditional embroidery done by women in Dharwar. This irkali navvari (nine yards) sari has intricate embroidery depicting lotus, pair of peacocks, animals and human figures on its pallu. The body of the sari has roomali phul buttis. The intricate creeper design separates the pallu from the ground.
Phulkari (flower work) is purely a domestic art practiced by women from the Punjab to embellish shawls that are used as head cover.
The feeling of a bride is very well explained in a traditional Punjabi song – “This phulkari has been embroidered by my dear mother; I affectionately embrace it again and again”.
Bandhani dupatta or chundari is given as a gift by the bridegroom to the bride at the time of the wedding ceremony in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
This unique specially commissioned sari expresses the feeling of patriotism of its wearer. It has star-shaped buttis woven all over the ground in silver and golden jari. The slogan Vande mataram is woven in green and maroon resham (silk thread) on the buttis and also all along the border.
The present sari is a unique example of Batik specially designed sometime around 1940 by Nandalal Bose, a renowned artist of the Bengal School, for a performance to be staged in front of Gurudev Tagore. Gauri, the daughter of Nandababu, executed it in Batik.
Smt Sushila Asher wearing the batik sari (acc. no. 97.12/2) designed sometime around 1940 by Nandalal Bose, a renowned artist of the Bengal School, for a performance to be staged in front of Gurudev Tagore. Gauri, the daughter of Nandababu, executed it in Batik.
Baluchar sari is the traditional silk or brocade sari from Bengal which gets its name from the small village of Baluchar near Murshidabad where it originated.
Indian society has been very particular about its attire. And headgear is one of the most important components of it. The commonly used word for headgear is pagadi (turban) which is several meters long single unstitched piece of cloth wrapped around the head in a variety of styles.Covering the head is an integral part of ancient Indian tradition. Gradually it attained social and religious importance and became an integral part of costume in the medieval period.
Pagadi of a Pune Brahmin community
Pagadis of specific colours are worn in different seasons and on particular occasions. Used throughout India, the form and style of headgear varies from place to place and community to community.
Pagadi of Bania community
Originally, the elaborate headgears were used as an additional safety measure to protect the head from adverse weather conditions. However, gradually it became a symbol of honour and pride of its wearer, his family and community.
Thread is a pathway a line to follow through the passage of life
Home is the nucleus of a householder’s life. The house with its kitchen and furnishings is the reflection of a person’s values and traditions and hence, the tradition of creating a wide range of furnishings of different materials has survived so long. In rural India, especially Gujarat and Rajasthan, many of these furnishings such as the Torana, (a festoon hung on doorways) form an essential part of the bridal gift. The bride-to-be usually crafts the torana herself as a testimony of her creative skills.
The term toran stands for a sacred gateway in Indian architecture. Torans are used to decorate the main entrance of the house to welcome the goddess of wealth Lakshmi and also to ward off evils. In Rajasthan and Gujarat, torans made of bead, abla bharat or sheesha (mirror) are very common. The dazzling surface of sheesha is considered a shield to deflect the evil eye.
Chakla or square wall hanging is used for decorating the walls specially in a Gujarati household. Generally the designs are comprised of auspicious symbols, geometrical patterns, fauna and flora.
The state of Gujarat is specially famous for its bead furnishings. Artisans were involved in bead making since ancient times. In the 19th century, Bania traders from Kutch and Saurashtra based in Zanzibar were engaged in the trade with East Africa. One of the main items of import from East Africa was Venetian Murano beads. People preferred these beads to create the household decorative and furnishing items. This age-old craft of bead work is a living tradition that continues till today in western India.
The deep blue cotton spreads are embroidered with crimson, blue, grey, yellow, brown, and white silken threads. In both the cloths, the dark blue ground has circular medallions at the centre surrounded with intricate embroidery. The borders are profusely worked and have elongated cones/quiris (paisley motifs) and floral designs, with floral and mihrab (arched window) designs along the edges.
Twilight – the days of devotion
There is an array of religious textiles, with equally varied meanings and usages across different religions in India. These include temple and domestic shrine decorations, devotional offerings, banners, ritual costumes and narrative scrolls. Large painted textiles have often been used to narrate stories and exploits of deities, saints and heroes to the common folk. One such textile is the Pabuji ni Phad (painted scroll of Pabuji), which is used by the Bhopas of Rajasthan to narrate the story of Ramnarayana or Pabuji. In Andhra Pradesh, the kalamkari (painted cloth) is used to narrate the story of gods and goddesses. These are also used to decorate temple walls as well as rathas (temple chariots) at the time of a procession. In Gujarat ‘Mata ni pachedi’ (painted and printed cloth depicting the Goddess) is used to create an enclosure for the shrine. Chod (backdrop for an idol), chandarvo (canopy) and torana (door hanging) are used to decorate shrines. Some textiles are offered upon fulfillment of wishes. For instance the Darshan Dwar phulkari (an embroidered hanging for temple or Gurudwara) of the eastern Punjab and shawls with couplets from Gita Govinda is offered to Lord Jagannatha. The Vaishnava religion has a rich tradition of painted backdrops called Pichhwais and elaborate costumes for Lord Krishna. Besides these, there are a variety of asanas (prayer carpets), angavastras (shawls), gomukhi (rosary bags) and rumals (ceremonial dish covers) for use by devotees across religions.
This work is done in kalamkari. Kalamkari or pen work refers to textiles that are printed or painted using a particular technique. It is a traditional textile painting technique, where the lines are drawn with kalam (pen), made from a stick with a wad of cotton at the tip. Often kalamkari is combined with block-printing. Modern kalamkari can be traced to 17th century Andhra Pradesh. Like most other Indian arts, it owes its birth to temple rituals.
Mata ni Pachedi
Traditionally, the Vaghris of Gujarat produce the Mata ni Pachedi (literally meaning ‘behind the Mother Goddess’). It is a rectangular cloth printed and painted in red, black and white. The white is usually the original ground of the material while the other colours are vegetable dyes. This painted cloth is used to create an enclosure for the shrine of the goddess within which she is invoked and appeased.
The autumn full moon
Pichhwais are made in various techniques such as painted, printed, appliqué, crochet and machine made. The paintings on the pichhwai correspond to the festival celebrated at the time of its display.
This square piece of crimson satin ground is finely embroidered with zardozi. Jari embroidery was a much developed craft and there are about thirteen different varieties of material used for this kind of embroidery, which was generally done on velvet or heavy silk. The craftsmen of Ahmedabad and Surat were particularly known for this embroidery and the Jain temples partronised them. The jari embroidery of Gujarat was famous even in the 13th century as noted by Marco Polo.
Copy of the Ardebil Carpet
The Museum has a sizable number of 19th century carpets from Persia (modern day Iran). One important piece is a copy of the famous Ardebil carpet from Iran. Ardebil was a famous centre of Persian carpets in Iran at the time of Safavid ruler, Shah Tamasp I (1514 – 1576) . The Arbedil carpet in the museum is a copy of a 16th century carpet now in the collection of V&A, London.
Historical records mention the royal wardrobes and craftsmen specially employed to create costumes as desired by royalty. the kinkhab (brocaded silk cloth) was used for creating exclusive textiles. Very fine Dhaka muslin generally used for jamas (coat) was known for its exquisite craftsmanship and its fineness was judged by the fact that one could pass the eleven-meter or ten yards long cloth of one yard width through a finger ring. Jama, salwar, patka and the elaborate pagadi form the male costume, whereas the exclusive costumes of ladies included elaborate ghagara-choli and odhani, kurtis, paijama and peshwaz. The sari in its myriad forms and styles of drapery has been an all-time favourite costume of India. Saris like Paithani, Maheshwari, Baluchar, Kuruppur and Benaesi are good examples of this tradition.
Kuruppur textile was an exquisite creation of the weavers of Tanjore in the south, an art which is unfortunately lost today. The technique of its production involves excellence in weaving the jari thread in the weft with the warp of the cotton fibre, dyeing it in resist and then overprinting it. Generally dyed with manjishtha (Rubia Cordifolia or Indian Madder), it has a deep maroon or brownish red colour though, occasionally undyed Kuruppur material in natural shade is also available.
Developed probably during the rule of the Bhoslas of Tanjore, it added one more exquisite variety to the already existing vast range of textiles in India. Besides the saris, pagdi pieces of this material were also produced in this fabric.
Paithani saris were popular with the ruling families in Maharashtra. The Peshwas particularly patronized paithani. Their fondness for paithani is reflected in many letters ordering saris, dhotis, dupattas and turbans in different varieties and colours. The Nizam of Hyderabad and his family were also very fond of paithani saris.
Traditionally known as Jambhul rang paithani, this purple paithani originally belonged to the Nizam family of Hyderabad as reported by the collector.
This shela has shikargah design on the ground. Animals like antelopes, elephants, tigers and various birds chased by hunters are shown in between stylistically woven creepers representing forest. Both ends of the shela are densely brocaded with forest scenes. There are bands with alternative designs of lion capital coat-of-arms of the princely state of Faridkot and coat-of-arms of the British East India Company. Faridkot had cordial relations with the British at that time. This seems to be a specially commissioned piece to present it to some British official or vice versa.
The choli (blouse) is beautifully embelished with zardozi work. The sleeves have a sun and floral creeper design. The bodice is also heavily embroidered with floral creeper design. This type of choli was worn along with an equally rich ghagara and odhani. The choli has silk cords at the back for fastening. Such cholis were worn on festive occasions.
Paijama, a simple drawstring trouser is an inseparable part of all types of traditional, stitched costumes in most parts of Asia. The word paijama is derived from the Persian word paa (leg) – jameh (garment).
This Maheshwari sari belongs to Maharani Chimanabai Saheb Gaekwar II (1872-1958) of Vadodara State, Gujarat.
An object that is owned by a family for many years when passed from one generation to another is called heirloom. India has a very old tradition of heirloom textiles. Women preserve their special saris as a family heirloom and later pass these down to the succeeding generations. Such traditions are always considered a sign of honor or blessing to the receiver.
Akho Garo Sari
This sari belonged to Meheren Bhabha, mother of Sir Homi Bhabha.
The museum has several heirloom textiles in its collection. The families have parted these heirlooms with a feeling that their loved ones will be remembered for ever and museum is the best place where they will be conserved for future generations to appreciate and understand various rich traditions.
The Museum has a sari in its collection from the heirloom of the Tagore family. It is a beautiful Baluchar sari which belonged to Jnanadanandini Devi (1850-1941), wife of Satyendranath Tagore (1842-1923), elder brother of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Jnanadanandini Devi gifted it to her daughter-in-law Sanga Devi, wife of Surendranath Tagore (1872-1940). Later on Sanga Devi gifted it to her daughter Joyasree Sen (nee Tagore) during her wedding in 1927. Joyasree married Kulprasad Sen. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was the acharya for this marriage.
The Museum acquired this sari from Haimanty Dattagupta who is daughter of Joyasree Sen. It was presented to her in her wedding in 1963 by Joyasree Sen.
Abul Hasan Tana Shah
Observe the typical Deccani choga in full gold with a velvet cape, a muslin jama, a brocaded sash, turban and a shawl around his shoulders.
This choga is stitched from embroidered Kashmiri woollen. Depending upon their cut and length the name of the male cotume varied from angarkha to choga, sherwani, jama, achkan and others.
The patka or waist-sash was widely worn by men of the Indian nobility from the 16th to the 19th century. These sashes were made of fine muslin or silk brocade. Some exquisite pieces were also made of kani pashmina.
This pagadi (turban) cloth probably belonged to a royal family of Rajasthan. The end piece of the pagadi is decorated with silver sequins and gold threads and red kidia beads.
Framji Pestonjee Patuck (1800 – 1840)
In Indian textile tradition, pashmina shawls from Kashmir hold a pride place. They were made of wool from a special breed of goat called pashm. A single shawl was a result of the collective efforts of spinners, dyers, designers, weavers and embroiders. The designs composed of buta, badami (almond), ambi or kairi (paisely), meander and flora, khat-rast (stripes) and shikargah (hunting) motifs.
Rumal (square shawl)
The rumal, literally a “handkerchief”, is a large square designed primarily for women’s wear. Well-to-do women from Iran to Egypt wore it folded diagonally round the waist or shoulders, or draped over the head as a veil. Rumals were also popular on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the fashion being to wrap one around the shoulders and across the front of a woman’s low-cut dress.
This beautifully embroidered shawl is a combination of Kashmiri and Suzani embroidery. By the mid-19th century in Kashmir the embroiderer’s art had reached its zenith. Here, fine embroidery is known by the Farsi word suzani, which is a generic term for embroidery. Suzani which has developed an extensive and diverse design repertoire that utilizes a variety of stitches including darning and double-darning stitches, running, buttonhole, stem, satin, herringbone, knot, and couching. There are two features that set Kashmiri embroidery apart from other embroidery traditions – one is the imitation kani stitch, a stem stitch reinforced by a very fine couching stitch; this is known as the suzani stitch. The other is the use of scissors to cut the loose threads from the back of the fabric so that there are no floats visible on the reverse.
Kashmir shawls acquired an important place in the export market of the 18th and 19th centuries and the craft of making the woollen shawls received patronage from Mughal kings.
The embroidered textiles include a vast range of regional varieties from the 19th to the 20th centuries. Most of the embroidered pieces in the collection are from Gujarat, mainly Kutch and Saurashtra.
The collection has beautiful embroidered Chamba rumal from Himachal Pradesh. These have mythological scenes executed in embroidery.
Kanat (tent hanging)
This kanat/ qanat is stenciled and hand block-printed on cotton.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (translation: ‘king Shivaji museum’), abbreviated CSMVS and formerly named the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, is the main museum in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was founded in the early years of the 20th century by prominent citizens of Mumbai, with the help of the government, to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, who was Prince of Wales at the time. It is located in the heart of South Mumbai near the Gateway of India. The museum was renamed in the 1990s or early 2000s after Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Empire.
The building is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, incorporating elements of other styles of architecture like the Mughal, Maratha and Jain. The museum building is surrounded by a garden of palm trees and formal flower beds.
The museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands, categorized primarily into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The museum houses Indus Valley Civilization artefacts, and other relics from ancient India from the time of the Guptas, Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta.