It is always wonderful to see what culture and history London has to offer and at the moment, the British Museum has 2 exhibitions on that will be of interest to anyone whole appreciates textiles. Following on from the very sucessful ‘Fabrics of India’ exhibition, they have the ‘Krishna in the garden of Assam’ piece. Also showing now in the main collections are a range of Islamic Footwear some of which regulars may recognise from the ‘Shoes: Pleasure & Pain’ exhibition.
Krishna in the garden of Assam the cultural context of an Indian textile:
Currently on display at the British Museum is the ‘Vrindavani Vastra’ (cloth of Vrindavan), which is reported to be the largest surviving example of an Assamese devotional textile. Made from woven silk, this beautiful textile depicts the Hindu god Krishna and his life in the forest of Vrindavan. Produced circa 1680, and measuring over 9 metres, the textile features both imagery and text demonstrating the highly skilled and most unusual weaving techniques that must have existed in India at this time.
The Banyan gown pictured below is made of Chinese floral damask with a lining that is also made from pieces of similar Vrindavani textile woven sometime between 1550 and 1800. The re-use of such textiles in items of clothing has helped to ensure their survival today although sadly the weaving techniques that produced them have since been lost.
Alongside the other exhibits, including masks, garments, and manuscripts, a short introductory film and an exciting video artwork combine to build a picture of late 17th century lndian history and of Krishna worship.
The exhibition Krishna in the garden of Assam is at The British Museum 21 January – 15 August 2016. Admission is free.
Life and Sole: Footwear from the Islamic world
Also on display at the British Museum is the Life and sole exhibition, in which footwear reveals an intriguing insight into the historical, as well as current, social and cultural aspects of life in Islamic countries.
The display features shoes and footwear of different styles, materials, and production techniques, dating from circa 1800, and originating from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South Asia.
From stilted bath clogs for bathing, to beautiful hand embroidered red leather wedding slippers, the display tells a story of people and their lifestyles and demonstrates the influence of politics and international trade on the fashion of footwear.
The exhibition runs from 14 November 2015-15 May 2016. Admission is free.
British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom
by Charlotte Hailwood 15/04/16