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Baluchars -The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal

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Baluchars -The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal
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Item Code: NAR740
Author: Jasleen Dhamija
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9789386906823
Pages: 244 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details: 12.00 X 9.50 inch
weight of the book: 1.46 kg
About the Book

The Historic Baluchar Textiles of Bengal are a testament to a unique weaving tradition. Composed of the finest silk, these textiles were painstakingly woven with intricate figurative and decorative patterns. They represent more than just a textile tradition. They are a window into the socio-cultural set-up of theeighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The transition from Nawabi to colonial rule in Bengal has been beautifully captured through these textiles. This richly illustrated book traces the historical development of baluchar textiles, especially Saris, and the position this art form has come to acquire in the twenty first century, By dissecting the conditions inspirations, materials, techniques and aesthetic qualities of this weaving tradition this book showcases how this art form travelled from Murshidabad to Bishnupur, then to Benares as well as to Museums around the world.

About the Author

Jasleen Dhamija is internationally renowned in the field of world textiles and costumes. She has been studying documenting and reviving Indian Textiles and handicraft traditions for nearly six decades. She began working for the development of handicrafts and handlooms in India from the 1950s. She also worked with the United Nations in Iran, Central Asia, in twenty-one African countries, the Balkans, South Asia and South East Asia. She was President of the Jury for Unesco’s Award for creativity in Textiles and co-Chairperson of the Handloom Development Working Group of the Planning commission (12th Plan). She has curated major exhibitions relate to textiles and crafts in different parts of the world. She has authored and edited several articles and books related to both Indian and world textiles and handicrafts. She was also consultant to world Bank and to various international NGOs.


Carpets resist art history.'This Pithy sentence (uttered but never published) by the art historian Tapati Guha- Thakurta, became famous when it was chosen as the epigraph in a widely cited essay on global art history by David Carrier. Guha-Thakurta was responding to a lecture by Carrier, which discussed the possibilities of including art from all cultures and periods within the framework of art history. Thakurta's riposte suggested that there are some kinds of objects about which an art history cannot be written.

It is generally assumed that not just carpets, but most textiles belong to the category of objects about which a history cannot be written. The reasons given for this absence are various. Some cite the gaps in the record: since textiles are fragile they claim that not enough of a corpus remains from which a history might be written. Others suggest that textiles are inherently a historical, as certain techniques, patterns and motifs remain unchanged over long periods of time. Yet others suggest that textiles are 'minor' antiquities, worthy of a technical or sociological study, but not themselves deserving to be the subject of a history of art.

Yet in the longue duree of our history it would be difficult to find a class of objects that has been as significant in aesthetic, technical, historic, economic, ritual, and cultural terms as the rich, varied and profuse output of Indian textiles. And textiles have been key in configuring India's place in and relationship with the rest of the world. As markets abroad coveted the works of its fabled weavers and dyers and printers and embroiderers, Indian textiles have driven an intense cosmopolitanism that brought traders and sailors to our shores. Textile producers too showed amazing ingenuity in adapting their skills to many needs and tastes.

Today we have a history of an art as recently established as photography, and we acknowledge its great exponents. We have a history of evanescent things that have gone leaving scarcely any material trace: a history of music, a history of gardens, a history even of perfume. What prevents us from fully embracing the project of a history of the textile arts? It is likely that our hesitation arises from a deep- seated bias that distinguishes between the 'major' arts of architecture, sculpture and painting that are given pride of place in a civilisational history; and 'minor' arts like wood-carving, metalware and textiles, that are considered merely decorative arts. Contrast this with the art histories of Japan. Any standard book of that subject features paintings, sculpted icons and temple buildings, but also kimonos, fans, lacquerware boxes and netsuke. No distinction is made here between the major and the minor arts. The skills, intelligence and aesthetic qualities of the artists who made all of these things are honoured alike. Why do the historians of Japanese art place garments and boxes on the same pedestal as paintings and architecture? Could this perhaps be because Japan was never colonised, and when it began to write its own art history, it did so on its own terms, instead of simply mimicking the categories and priorities of a coloniser's art?

For us to decolonise Indian art history, there would be no better way forward than to acknowledge those genres of art that despite their great significance and contribution, have been unfairly neglected for so long. In this reconfiguration of our art history, textiles must take the first place. And it is through books like this, which can reconstruct the oeuvre, explicate the incredible technical finesse, celebrate the great masters, discuss the historical currents affecting the choice of form and motifs of textile traditions, that we can see the work of the decolonisation of Indian art history taking shape. Through Baluchars: The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal the fields of textile history and art history take an important step forward.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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