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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
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Sacred Threads

A homecoming for Indian textiles with 'mystic powers'

Sacred Threads
Sanjoy Ghosh
Sacred Threads
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
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 time-warping show will go on till December 28, 2005. He adds: "We're bolstering it with lithographs, pictures and dolls from our galleries." In a finely calibrated assessment, textile guru and intach's UK Trust chairman Martand Singh says, "The Calico Museum collection is the finest in India. The TAPI comes a close second." Jasleen Dhamija, textile historian, familiar with the TAPI collection, says, "It moved me to tears when I first saw it, even after 50 years of being involved in India's textiles." Overseas, experts from UK's Victoria and Albert Museum call it the finest in the world.

The exhibition includes treasured handlooms designed for foreign buyers. Like the gaja or elephant patola, woven using the...
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