29 November, 2020

Warp And Weft

Behind the controversy lies a unique exploration of handcrafted textiles

Warp And Weft
Tradition and Beyond is a glittering jewel of a book. It is also a mine of information and Indian cultural history. Nevertheless, tradition is not exclusive. Nor does it belong exclusively to anyone. So the title and text of Martand Singh's compilation volume of the series of seven Viswakarma Exhibitions held between 1981 and 1990 has caused much angst.

Unintentionally, it suggests that the book is an overview of contemporary handcrafted Indian textiles per se; not just those developed by him, Rakesh Thakore and the government weavers' centres at that time. The lack of mention of other major developments in Indian textiles during the same 10 years may surprise a casual browser. The craft-y literati have been equally surprised at the unattributed borrowings from the 1982 Viswakarma catalogue, The Master Weavers, written by Jyotindra Jain. So similar are the two that one apocryphal story has it that Dr Jain was sent Handcrafted Indian Textiles for review, and replied that he does not review his own books!

The confusion, controversy, and snide cocktail...



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