04 December, 2020

Sacred Threads

A homecoming for Indian textiles with 'mystic powers'

Sanjoy Ghosh
Sacred Threads
When textile collector Praful A. Shah softly submits, "We stumbled upon India's biggest BPO", he's predating the modern abbreviation for business outsourcing by 600 years. Shah is talking of Indian handlooms made solely for export. Having spent two decades piecing together our rich material past, Praful and wife Shilpa Shah's TAPI collection includes largely unseen original Indian heirloom textiles, recovered from Asia, Africa and America—continents where 'sacred' Indian cloths were preserved and valued for their ceremonial, religious and magical power. This retrieval has prompted the Shahs, owners of Surat-based Garden Silk Mills, to adopt TAPI (Textile and Art of the People of India) as an acronym.

Exhibiting India's textile dominion over the world, the National Museum, Delhi, this week unveils 'Masters of the Cloth', comprising 50 marvels from the 4,000-piece TAPI collection. "For the first time in our museum history, we're able to display and share lost Indian handlooms and reclaim a glorious heritage," says R.R.S. Chauhan, assistant director, National Museum. This...


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