Ancient silk cloth from Assam centrepiece of UK exhibition

Monday, Jan 18, 2016,15:18 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi ണ്ട A hand woven silk cloth from Assam called Vrindavani Vastra that dates back to the late 17th century will be the centrepiece of an exhibition in Britain which explores the impressive cultural history of the northeastern state for the first time.

This is also for the first time that the over 9m long piece of cloth, produced by the almost-lost lampas technique of weaving, will be on display in its entirety.

The exhibition at the British Museum in London is titled Krishna in the Garden of Assam: The Cultural Context of an Indian textile and will be held from January 21 to August 15. In the late medieval period, Assam was the centre of a vibrant culture of devotion to the Lord Krishna, a movement that was founded by the Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankaradeva and which continues to this day.

A striking element of this devotional cult is the re-enactment of scenes from the Life of Krishna, all over Assam but especially in the island of Majuli in the Brahmaputra river during the Raax festival. These Krishna narratives were recorded not only in music, drama and dance, but also in woven textile imagery. This is the first exhibition in Britain to explore the impressive cultural history of Assam through objects.

The Vrindavani Vastra is one of the most important Indian textiles in the museum’s collection and is dated to about 1680. Assam has been renowned for many centuries as a centre for weaving both silk and cotton.

The lampas technique of weaving was used to produce the Vrindavani Vastra and this example would have been woven on a wooden draw-loom using two sets of warp and two sets of weft threads.