The Calico Museum

March 12, 2010

Have been twice to this museum.The first time I cried. It is the most amazing collection of textiles from right across India. See www.calicomuseum.com. All housed in 3 beautiful old buildings, reconstructed on site. One in particular, which houses the religious textiles is an old havelli, with intricate wood carving, shaded interior courtyards and pools. So beautiful! The grounds are a rich botanical gardens with lawns, ponds, fountains, shaded walkways, mosaic patios etc, lorded over by peacocks. Sadly, you can’t take photos and the tour is very regimented so there’s not much time to wander, but being forced to look properly and be selective in what you spend time on is no bad thing. I managed to do quite a bit of note taking on the second tour and will go back again.

Found out lots of intriguing things; the paisley design for instance came originally from a fist print. People dipped a clenched fist into rice paste and printed the repeat patterns onto the mud walls of their homes. Loved the story too of the Talims, or songs sung by master craftsmen to the shawl weavers, containing instructions on the patterns to be woven. I asked if these songs still exist. Apparently they do though people no longer remember how to interpret them. Paisley’s machines meant an end to the traditional ways of weaving.

Maybe as a result of spending long hours in the textile museum, I am seeing repeat patterns everywhere.

Paper shop decoration

Carved wooden strings of flowers on the walls of a haveli

Flower wreath seller

Devi Sing proudly served this salad for dinner yesterday

Whirly gig salad

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