Lawn season that is summer is particularly uninspiring as I neither wear nor give away joras through my blogging presence. So if you axe these events, there is little that a blogger can cover this season, also I have tough time staying out of trouble. Just past week there was peculiar invite from Mohatta Palace Museum and I was for a change thrilled about the event titled ‘Flower from every meadow’ because it was about Traditions of Dress in the Subcontinent.
Starting with indigenous Ajrak installation where you could see a live demonstration of block printing and then a demo of handweaving sindhi shawls on the primitive wooden looms.You walk through a stunning corridor lined with Bandhani tie-dye shawls, I guess this is how it feels when one walks through the exhibit in Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New york .
From there you move towards Chitrally woolen robes and Balochi phashik, the achkan, the interesting textures and attention to detail interms of embellishments. Once you move through these spaces and reading the nifty little descriptions of their origins et all you notice how minimalist yet complex our aesthetic has become. The surfaces have become almost flawless yet these primitive pieces with all of their imperfections still tell a more profound tale.
Have you every seen how gotta work this classy. I for one had always seen grotesque ones on shades of marigold for Mhendi events. For those who don’t know gotta is metallic trim which is folded and appliquéd onto fabric to create elaborate patterns, Originating from Rajasthan, here at the exhibit you could see how a men’s sherwani from Bahawalpur where the stitches are so seamless it almost looks like a jacquard textile. Even though the garment had aged but you can skill admire the craftsmanship and sophistication of Bhawalpuri gotta work.
Another piece that caught my eye were the pajamas from the greater Sindhi empire they were cut like drain pipe mod trousers. I have had quite a debate with my tailor master over the pattern where he would always make them tapered so this reaffirms my long held beliefs.The kurta as we wear it today, also has had quite a evolution here I saw. Here at the exhibit it had a panel near the shoulder and a triangular piece to attach the arms.The ones we wear now with a yoke like a western shirt seems to be a contemporary adaptation.
Then there were parts showcasing works of contemporary fashion designers of Pakistan that have taken the fashion forward like the legendary Nilofer Shahid with her haute couture pieces, a printed long cape coat that seamlessly depicted Noor Jehan’s story (yes whole story right there). A rendition of Queen of Awadh’s costume with historically accurate lattice pattern left you awestruck. Why aren’t these people talked about anymore?
Sonya Batla one of the most underrated designers and a genuinely great soul showed her own contemporary take on Sindhi Tukka at the hem which was one of the finest I have seen in my life. Another one of her pieces used phulkari pattern (a Punjabi embroidery pattern meaning flower craft) in gold(not pictured here). Proving that there is so much to be inspired from you don’t need to copy from European fashion houses.
There were Bunto Kazmi’s storied shawls that have been known to cost hundreds of thousands to start. The fine needlework was so detailed that you could see even the eyes of men hunting with daggers and arrows finished to perfection.How can you not feel destitute and downright basic while gasping at the finesse of these. A guy like me can’t dream of bridal trousseau but a shawl like this could be ‘hope-couture’.
Maheen Khan’s initiative ‘Koya’ to revive silk weaving industry in Orangi Town is also commendable, for silk weavers have become akin to critically endangered white rhinos, silk weavers have been practically driven out of the market by imports from East Asia. She was kind enough to introduce me to Ms. Duria Qazi, Head of Visual Studies Department at KU, which in turn led to one of most enriching small talks I have had in my life. I owe you Maheen Khan! I could go on and on about this pilgrimage of sorts, I have been there several times already because there is so much to absorb and sink in. One of the fellow blogger Daily Geekette once wrote on her blog that” I could wander at length around most museums, finding endless, personal, and silent entertainment in what is on view. Personally, a great collection or exhibit has the ability to both exhilarate and to exhaust the mind; the inspiration I glean is abundant and utterly gratifying in the most sublime of manners.” It’s not the clothes people used to wear or are wearing, it’s the narrative and how brilliantly people at Mohatta Palace Museum have presented it.If you have even bare minimum interest in history even if not in fashion you should definitely pay a visit, there is more to it than what I have covered here with pieces from Rizwan Beyg, Shamaeel Ansari, Faiza Samee and countless antique textiles whose history would enrich you beyond any book you could read. Do visit it if you get a chance or you will forever regret it.