This Tukari (Patch) Skirt is a delightful blend of both skills, meaningful arrangement of pieces, and fine and precise needle-work. It is composed of small pieces of various sizes as also variously dyed, printed and designed but these are not old worn out rags irregular in shapes. Most of them are rectangular – large or just squarish, and are taken from fresh lengths of rayon fabric. Further, such lengths are properly coloured using various dying methods, such as mono-colour dye, batik dye, and printed with both, colourful patterns and various mono-colour motifs. Not casually, different pieces are so arranged that on one hand they greatly contribute to the unity of the whole so much so that it looks like a piece crafted out of a single length, and on the other, each piece stands for its own identity affording to those around delightful contrast. What could otherwise look odd untwisted ropes used for defining joints between each two pieces attribute to the piece the real magic.
Though now one of the most loved contemporary fashions this tukari skirt made of pieces stitched together inherits its ethnicity and antiqueness from one of India’s early costume traditions. The earliest example of a pieced costume is reported from the life of Buddha who was presented by a poor disciple a chadara – sheet, composed of old rags. It was not its cost the Buddha out of respect for this disciple’s sentiments as also for his massive labour and talent that transformed the poorest of the rags into a magnificent wear for the Great Master that since onwards the Buddhism accepted a pieced chadara as one of its most venerated objects.
Later, the Buddhism followed the cult of pieced wears as one of its most sacred practices and to utilise old wears is still one of Buddhism’s golden principles. Whenever a Buddhist teacher passes away his last wear is pieced and divided among his disciples each using his share as his teacher’s blessings and composing with it a proper wear considered most sacred. Later, another sectarian Master Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, is known to have in his use a tukari chadara. Patch-work, a highly skilled art requiring finest needle-work, is almost another version of pieced costumes.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient India. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.