The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.
by Jaina Mishra
“jo hai wo hai – jo nahi hai wo
nahi hai’, said a poet once. Translated roughly into English, this means : ‘what is, IS and what is not, is NOT’ - A statement of fact asserted to make
one accept life as it is. This poet was not from
In living one of my life dreams, I
The first black and white contrast
that awed me, is of the gentle and the harsh, living
in consonance. The gentle nature of
The second contrast I cannot ignore is my own black and white reaction – black to nature-made structures and white to man-made structures. There are raw mountains that have split the earth to rise, themselves slashed and cut mercilessly, by rivers of melting ice, all the way to the Everest Base Camp. The landscapes along the path are evidence of the earth’s violent nature. And this path along Gyantse and Shigatse is dotted with amazing pieces of man made architecture, bearing the message of peace. In the starkness of the landscapes I feel fear and dread and overpowering awe – all black reactions. While in the man made structures I am spellbound by the passion and the devotion that must have gone into their creation – all pure white reactions. How did they create all this beauty while living in such difficulty? How did they profess and practice peace in this violent and angry geography ? A land of contrasts !
And within meters of them are the colourful street sellers, with lots of eye candy in the form of old bags and old animal trappings and silver ware, with a commercial willingness to make a piece as old as the buyer would like it to be, without a thought about the sins of lying or its impact on the afterlife! Black Intent.
The lives and deaths of important monks represent stark contrast. The frugality and austerity of their lives, is completely different from the opulence of their tombs covered with thousands of kilos of gold in the Potala.
The contrast between the blazing hot sun and chilling temperatures in the shade…
Lots of black and white!
In traveling through this land of
colours and discovering its conceptual black n white contrasts, I came across nice
traditional things, in metal and fabric that still live within its culture. I am displaying here the little that I saw of
Traditional textiles are a statement of identity that say “This is where I am from. This is what I do. This is who I am” (World Textiles)
A. TIE & DYE TEXTILESIn many of the monasteries and chortens that I visited
some areas are out of bounds for tourists, with their doors locked and covered with curtains. I must have missed a good number, before I realised that the tie-and-dye kind of work seems to be a characteristic of
And so, it was only on my final visit
to my favorite antique dealer in
The coat and its details :
Later that day, I was lucky enough
to see two nomadic old women with beautiful weatherlined faces and prayer
wheels doing a ‘kora’ or circumambulation around the Jokhang in
In the same style of tie and dye, below, is an old skirt apron.
The traditional woman’s dress consists of a long sleeved shirt, a sleeveless shoulder-to-ankle length pinafore-tunic of a thick material, and a skirt apron. The nomads wear a sturdy apron – made of wool, with an inner lining. All the three examples that I saw had beautiful outer layers with tie and dye work, in different field colours and all had an inner lining of unwoven wool in varying degrees of deterioration. All had the waist belt component, but the fasteners material varied between fabric, leather and metal. Exchange of complicated information with the dealers with whom I shared no common language, was limited, and so my understanding remains incomplete.
Pictures of skirt apron and its detail:
I am sure I will always regret not getting the other two…
B. WEFT FACED WEAVE TEXTILES
This other kind of skirt apron almost always had a horizontally lined pattern and seem finer than the nomadic counterparts. This may be a warm weather apron.
This kind of an apron has been described in the book, “World Textiles”: “A weft faced weave is one in which the warp has been obscured by the weft threads and any pattern, most commonly horizontal stripes, is therefore carried by the weft. The wefts are more densely packed than the warp or are of heavier weight – example a woollen weft and a cotton warp.”