Fragment of a temple hanging of the Vaishnava sect. Fine chain stitch silk embroidery on silk; 214 cm x 145 cm. Kachchh, Gujarat, c. early 20th century. 7/1545.
This intricately embroidered fragment is a part of a larger temple hanging of one of the Vaishnava sects, depicting Lord Krishna or Shrinathji as the main deity. The present piece shows only one segment where his female devotees are depicted worshipping their Lord amidst flora and fauna. This type of embroidery was the work of professional male embroiderers belonging to the mochi caste or leather workers who as a result then worked in chain stitch, both on leather and on cloth, and their work was therefore also known as mochi embroidery.
One remarkable aspect of the technique is that by merely altering the direction of lines in chain stitch an effect of shading has been achieved. This feature, combined with the general rendering of the theme, makes it evident that these embroidered pieces were based on painted Rajasthani and Gujarati prototypes.
In Kachchh these pieces were patronised by the staunch Vaishnava community of Bhatias whose women also wore skirts, blouses and odhnis or veil cloths, embroidered in a similar manner.