Kunchi, a Maharashtrian infant ceremonial garment(Photos: Swararaj Datar)
Kunchi, a Maharashtrian infant ceremonial garment(Photos: Swararaj Datar)

Memories cut from the same cloth

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya has a unique initiative inviting participants to send in stories and photographs about homegrown textile preservation methods
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Sammohinee Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2020 12:57 PM IST

Her Minakari locket jangles on an old trunk-top as she hoicks that junk onto two wooden chairs and sits on a dressing table tool. This is Samya Giri’s biannual ritual, who was interested in contributing to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (CSMVS)’s latest drive. Away from home and childhood friends in Punjab’s Nangal town, this homemaker’s hope chest — with quilts, silk scarves, embroidered hankies, tailored flannel dresses and zardosi saris – is carefully taken out and cared for.

CSMVS is inviting stories and photographs about homegrown textile preservation methods. “Textiles narrate personal and ethnic identities. You are what you wear. And, what you wear reflects the history of your family and culture,” says Nilanjana Som, assistant curator (art) at CSMVS.

A photo entry to the CSMVS textile preservation initiative by Swararaj Datar ( )
A photo entry to the CSMVS textile preservation initiative by Swararaj Datar ( )

With the ongoing lockdown restricting movement and physical interaction, the initiative intends to feed the museum’s primary objective of witnessing antiquity through people who have built it.

Som explains how woven fabrics overstep personal boundaries to connote our collective national identity. “Different parts of India boast of a different textile heritage — the west is known for its tie and dye, Bengal for its jamdani, Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu for Kanchipuram silk, and so on,” she says.

Care for keepsakes:

1. Avoid mothballs

2. Do not expose textiles to direct sunlight. Keep them in controlled UV, IR-free light (less than 50 lux)

3. Store them in cool and dry places

4. Cover woven fabrics in soft cotton cloth. The non-woven ones can be rolled

5. Clothes that are folded and stored, should be aired and re-folded at least once a year

6. Home remedies such as cloves, cinnamon, neem leaves and vaikhand or the calamus root are effective in preserving textiles if used in mulmul pouches and changed periodically.

Inputs by Omkar Kadu, assistant curator (conservation) and Nilanjana Som, assistant curator (art) at CSMVS

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