Textile Traditions of India

Kerchief depicting scenes from god Krishna’s life. Silk embroidery on cotton; 69 cm x 68 cm. Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. c. early 20th century. 7/4908.

Chamba, one of the former North-Western hill states, was renowned for its floss silk embroidery in fine darning stitch, evenly worked on both sides of unbleached cotton cloth. Incidents from history or mythology were narrated in the pictorial clarity of miniature paintings on square or rectangular pieces known as rumals.

This particular rumal depicts the theme of Rukmini’s abduction by Krishna. Rukmini, Krishna’s chief consort was in other incarnations Rama’s consort Sita, Vishnu’s consort Lakshmi and Parashurama’s consort Bhudevi. Rukmini, who had fallen in love with Krishna, was engaged to Shishupala by her brother Rukmi. As the sacrament of her marriage with Shishupala was about to be completed, Krishna carried away Rukmini and eventually married her.

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