About the Book
of India: Timeless Textiles is the first extensive survey of Indian quilts
compiled in India or abroad. It identifies and explores the historic and
contemporary context of quilt making, allowing the reader to share in the
contextual relationship between this art and Indian society.
400 photographs, captured in rural villages, museums and urban settings,
present the richness of this pervasive textile
tradition. From the simplest utility quilt to the most elaborate Indo-
Portuguese coverlet, the book details the diverse designs, varied techniques
and multiple uses of the twenty-five unique quilting genres discovered by the
author during his four years of research.
quilters are part of a living tradition that dates back 4,000 years to the
Indus Valley Civilization. The spirit of their lives is recounted in
fascinating stories and captivating portraits. The language of their quilts
articulates the symbols and motifs familiar to these quilters and their
made for use in the home, to signify religious asceticism, or to be given as
gifts, the quilts are infused with spiritual significance and folk meaning. The
eclectic imagery not only draws upon a host of classic themes but also upon the
objects and events of everyday life.
pioneering book raises from obscurity the remarkable, yet largely overlooked,
quilts of India as an important class of Indian textiles. Written for a general
audience as well as the most ardent professional, the book provides an intimate
look into the fabric of Indian life through quilt making.
About the Author
J Finn, author and acclaimed photographer, is an eclectic artist with a broad
spectrum of professional experience who expresses an unprecedented passion for
independent scholarship and learning. His art works are included in museum and
private collections including the Albuquerque Museum of Art and the University
of New Mexico's Harwood Museum. Mr. Finn divides his time between India and the
United States researching and studying Indian culture. Most recently he published
Notes to Myself Portraits in India and The View from Wolf Ridge.
the astonishing variety of textiles from India, humbler domestic objects such
as quilts have often been overlooked. The charming embroidered kanthas of Bengal or the sophisticated chintz palampores made for the western market may have caught the
attention of textile scholars and collectors, but there are many more quilts
that have remained unnoticed and undocumented. Far more than just bedcovers,
quilts can protect against arrows, symbolize religious asceticism or tell
stories of saints and deities.
on the simple gudri, with its lines of running
stitch, appear across most of the subcontinent, bur other regional quilts like
the sujani of Bharuch in
Gujarat, with wadding inserted into double-weave pockets while on the loom, the
ledra of Jharkhand with their dynamic designs derived
from folk and rock art, or the sujani of Bihar with
figurative designs illustrating the everyday life of the women who make them,
show what a vibrant and varied a tradition quiltmaking
still represents in India today. The most humble of materials can produce the
most visually striking results. This combination of beauty with utility in
everyday objects is a thread running through traditional Indian domestic
culture, whether in clay, metal, wood or cloth, and the principle of recycling
old cloth into quilts-the making of something new our
of the old-has echoes the world over.
stories involving domestic quilts or the patched and quilted robes of holy men
suggest that the history of quilted cloth in India stretches further back than
we can know. Early sculpture clearly showing quilted fabric dates back to the
early centuries of the Christian era, while the oldest surviving quilts made
for the first European settlers, the Portuguese, date from the sixteenth
century. Most examples of quilting are for domestic rather than elite or export
use, so few old pieces survive.
this book, Patrick Finn's tireless fieldwork shows us how many of these
traditions continue today, in some places as a result of the efforts of
inspiring individuals who have kept traditions alive or revived old ones, bur
in others as part of an unbroken history of quilt making and use. After
travelling throughout India with him on his quest, we can share in his
amazement and delight at arriving at a village to find a host of quilts laid our for
airing in the sun, as if the villagers knew he was coming.
patching and applique are some of the oldest forms of
applied, techniques in textiles, possibly evolving from the need to preserve
and conserve fabrics, which were considered a precious part of one's
wrapper worn by the priest-like figure of the Indus Valley carries a trefoil
motif, which represents the appliqué technique; design is inlaid (Fig. 262).
Over millennia, the techniques associated with quilting have evolved and become
closely linked with religious beliefs including recognizing the important
protection provided by quilted cloth. The combining of cloths gathered from
different sources increased the power of the users.
Sanskrit verse quoted by iaz Zaman,
Sanaih parvata langhanam
one stitches rags, slowly one traverses the path and slowly one climbs to the
top of the mountain" connects us to the significance of the gathering of
pieces of cloths, the rags, chindi and its connection
to the deified Chindadeo and Chindadevi,
the Lord of Tatters and the Lady of Tatters.
book on quilts by Patrick Finn is one of the first to research and examine the
subject in depth. Not only does the text deal with the historic background, but
also the vast range of the techniques practiced throughout India. Each
community, each region has its own distinct styles and these are well
researched. Earlier scholars have dealt with the kantha,
the Indo-Portuguese quilts, the dharkee and rallis of Gujarat, but no one has done such an extensive
study, dealing with the rich diversity of this art and its significance in the
daily lives of the people.
richness of quilt symbolism is a repository of the wisdom of women and their
deep links with the past. The embroidered quilt of the indigenous people of
Gujarat, which occupies the central place in the rounded hut, is the powerful
cloth, which protects their traditions, their family and their community. The
magical carrier of the snake charmer is quilted and embroidered by using the snake
skin and finishing with the sacred cowrie, sea
shells, a mother's protective spell (Fig. 6).
book will be a fascinating read for all of us.
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