An Beautifully Couched Indian Square: Layered Cottons
ca. mid twentieth century
22" x 21", 56 cm x 53.25 cm
This beautifully stitched off-square of cotton comes from the hands of India's nomadic people called Banjara. The Banjara people are known for their colorfully exuberant, flashy and ornate costumes, those of the women often wildly decorated with silver coins and mirror work. This particular cotton square was said to have been collected in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
This square is layers thick and its design is separated into four, neat quadrants. Each of the squares-within-a-square shows a different pattern of wonderful, hand-couched stitching: looking closely at each quadrant you can see that the execution of the pattern is simply wonderful, the most complicated one being the area of vertical stripes which are composed of rows of complex crisscross.
The border of cowrie shells is spotty as many have fallen off over time; cowrie shells are often applied to Banjara textiles. The base cloth seems to be of hand spun, hand woven cotton that has been dyed in a botanical substance.
A really gorgeous square of embroidered cloth that takes a bit of time to fully appreciate, but once it gets your attention, this apparently simple-appearing folk textile commands you to admire it for its intricate beauty.