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National Museum eyes Costume Gallery to promote art

The National Museum plans to have a Costume Gallery specially focusing on the development of the costume of the Indian male and female over the years.

art and culture Updated: Aug 26, 2009 16:06 IST
Satyen Mohapatra

The National Museum plans to have a Costume Gallery specially focusing on the development of the costume of the Indian male and female over the years.

"In view of the growing number of textile and fashion designing institutions and export houses in the country, we would like to display our rich heritage of costumes ,with help of photographs, diagrams and mannequins wearing the costumes. We feel there will be quite a 'draw' for the Costume Gallery," says Anamika Pathak, Curator, Decorative Arts and Textiles , National Museum.

Talking to HT she said, "Apart from costumes we will try to show the range of head gears like pagri, turban, as also accessories like shoes, waist-bands."

The gallery would primarily focus on the development of male and female costumes during the period 17th to 20th centuries in different regions of the country.

She said people should not re-cycle their old sarees and suits but donate or sell those to the National Museum.

"Many persons sell traditional 'zari sarees' of their ancestors for the little bit of gold or silver which is extracted from it. We would request them donate or sell those to us. We are losing a lot of traditional techniques and national heritage in this way. These samples can give a lot ideas to students of the textile institutions who can come and see and learn to design and create new items," she added.

She said whenever the donated tems were put on display credit was given to the donor.

A velvet Church hanging of 1770-80 which depicts Mother Mary embroidered with zari thread made for the Armenian market is one of the rare pieces of the Textile Gallery of the National Museum. Many items in India over the ages in the textile sector has always been made specially for the export sector, says Anamika. There is also a rare Baluchari saree which has the name of the weaver weaved on it.

Another exotic piece which the gallery boasts of is a eighteenth century cotton printed coverlet made in Golkonda, she said.

With Persian and Chinese figures and gardens it has a lot of foreign influence. The technology of natural dyes being used is such that "the shine of the colours is still found," she added.

Indian textile goes back 5,000 years to the Harappa - Mohenjodaro period. The well known sculpted figure of the bearded priest from Mohanjodaro is draped in a 'shawl'. Cotton fibres,seeds, needles,spindles from this period found from many sites like Lothal, Kalibangan clearly show that textile manufacturing was well established, Anamika said.

In the 9 - 10 century A.D. India's cotton printed textile fragments have also been found in Egypt and literary evidence is also there of a flourishing textile trade between India and the Greek and Romans even during the 1st century A.D. .

The National Museum's textile,costumes,accessories collection of over 3,000 items has large collection of Shahtoosh and Pashmina shawls around 250-300 years old.

As organic material conservation and preservation of textile requires continuous effort to protect them from climatic conditions,dust,sunlight,pests and insects, she added.