Are you a fashionista looking for style inspiration Or are you just curious about Pakistan’s textile industry?
Either way the exhibition A Flower from Every Meadow Design and Innovation in Pakistan’s Dress Traditions at Karachi Mohatta Palace Museum will keep you interested.The exhibition is not just a tribute to various artists and craftsmen involved in the production of a single piece of cloth rather it is a comprehensive tour of Pakistan, where the visitor becomes a traveller and embarks on a journey into the snow-capped peaks lush green meadows and sandy dunes of this culturally rich country represented by the traditional attire worn by the dwellers of each area. The exhibition is expansive showcasing diverse crafts like ajrak dyeing and khaddi from Sind and Punjab woven cloth from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and lungis and embroidered shirts from Baluchistan.Before curator Nasreen Askari could explain the idea behind the exhibition, she laughed loudly at the suggestion that food and clothes were two things Pakistanis are obsessed with. Be it an occasion or just an ordinary day in our lives, eating well and dressing up keeps us occupied.Perhaps this is why it is important for all of us to view A Flower From Every Meadow. The exhibition is on for four months.
The making of the meadow:
A Flower in Every Meadow aims to let its visitors admire the detail and intricacy of Pakistan’s textile industry. Ms Askari put it simply: We feel it is extremely important to take pride in what is ours and not to let it go because it’s so easy to let it go.Describing the journey from conceiving the idea of A Flower from Every Meadow to showcasing it Ms Askari spoke at length about the eight month process This exhibition has been a result of different collections. Some families and individuals were extremely cooperative in providing us with different items and some of the collections already belonged to us so we had around 150 pieces. These unique samples of different times were extremely beautiful so we wanted to showcase them. When we received the pieces, we joined our heads to come up with a theme to bind them together. Obstacles are expected, especially when the set-up is so elaborate, and Ms Askari shared that she was most concerned about protecting items given by people from all over Pakistan even the settlers in the Northern areas: Textiles are very fragile and special care has to be taken in terms of light, setting and physical contact perhaps that was a tough call in exhibiting the items but we somehow managed it successfully.
A theme emerges:
Magical Rhythms The Master Craftsmen of Sind the first gallery in the exhibition was home to the three basic processes involved in making a finished product: printing dyeing and weaving.In the printing atelier, one was surprised to find dried cow dung, but upon inquiring it was found that the dung enhances the colour in block printing on ajrak. The block printing process could not only be seen in a video but on the wall as well. In the dyeing atelier, pots held colourful dyes to be used in bandhnis, the local term for tie-and-dyeing. A khaddi, or a loom, was also placed in the room to represent the process of making cloth using hands.
Explaining the importance of the three craftsmen, Ms Askari said: “We started off with kaarigar, the craftsmen. We met them and realised that we needed to start with how a dress goes through various processes like designing, printing, etc. Hence, the first gallery is like a tribute to our craftsmen, especially those who are involved in the three processes namely: printing, weaving and dyeing.”
“We acquired a loom, talked to these craftsmen and they agreed to help us. Then, after a cohesive introduction for the gallery was ready, we decided that colouring and printing was done before other processes, hence their galleries had to come next. This is followed by weaving, so that came next and the third aspect we took was embroidery so these three processes have been divided into separate galleries,” she added.
Ties That Bind— painted, printed and tie dyed fabrics:
With different styles of chunri and ajrak on display, the intricacy of the work in the first was aptly visible. Ranging from areas of Sind to Kutch to Gujarat, bandhni is all about tying the knot and being careful about the colour spread.
A small display of artefacts from Indus Kohistan were also displayed: some kitchen items and furniture showed visitors the lifestyle of distinctive Swati groups. The usage of wood was commendable as people not only use it for building but also in their daily use.