Monday, November 11, 2013




Kiswah is the cloth that covers the Kaaba in Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Kiswah is Arabic for 'pall', the cloth draped over a casketThe present cost of making the Kiswah amounts to SAR 17,000,000. The cover is 658m2 and is made of 670 kg of silk. The embroidery has 15 kg of gold used to plate the threads. It consists of 47 pieces of cloth and each piece is 14m long and 101 cm wide. The embroidery is manually done but is slowly being computerised.
 First the silk is dyed in red, then green and then in blackThere are the 99 names of Allah embroidered onto it along with verses from the Quran related to the Hajj.
The Kiswah is changed every year on the 9th day of hajj. The old Kiswah used to be up into pieces and distributed among the pilgrims, who would use it as a shelter from the heat in Mecca. Now though it is given only to dignitaries and organisations.
The first time the Kaaba was covered during the rule of the Jurhm tribe of the Yemen. The muslims of Yemen did not participate in the covering of the Kaaba until 630A.D. This Kiswah over the Kaaba was undisturbed even after the Muslims took over it until a pilgrim accidentally set it ablaze while lighting incense. The prophet Mohammad then covered it in a white Yemeni cloth which is made of cotton.
Different Caliphs had different practices when it came to the Kiswah. Muawiyah who was of them would drape the Kaaba twice a year. He was the one who started the tradition of using silk cloth, and this tradition is still being followed. One of the later Califs brought about the practice of using one Kiswah at a time, instead of the now outdated accumulated Kiswah. In this they would just put the new Kiswah over the older one and this could damage the Kaaba. Another Caliph would change the Kiswah three times a year. The first time would red, then white and eventually a red brocade. Later he draped a green fabric but people disagreed with the frequent change in colour and decided to switch to black and have followed that ever since.
After the Yemeni cloth the Kiswah was produced in Egypt for a really long time. The fabric would be brought to Mecca in a huge parade before Hajj season. This continued till 1927 when the manufacturing moved to Saudi Arabia.
The raw materials were got from Sudan, Iraq, India and Egypt.
I was looking at the changes that took place in the production of the Kiswah through the centuries. Right from the first time that the Kaaba was draped by the Yemeni, the different Caliphs and their colourful Kiswahs right up to when the black Kiswah became a tradition that stuck. I also looked at the change in locations of production.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Identity of cloth
What does the identity off cloth depend on ?
Does it depend on the cloth itself?
Or does it depend on the way its worn ?
Or the person wearing it?

Or the way people perceive it? 
My cloth Banarasi silk sari
Banarasi saris are saris made in Varanasi, a city which is also called "Benares." These saris are historically considered to be among the finest saris in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery, and being highly sought after. These saris are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and because of these engravings, these saris are relatively heavy.
It long a saree is made Depending upon the intricacy of designs and patterns, a sari can take anywhere from 15 days to a one month and sometimes up to six months to complete.

 Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs (leaves), kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of border is a characteristic of these sarees

distinctive features are Heavy gold work, Compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work.These saris are an inevitable part of any Indian bride's trousseau awry)
The earliest mention of the brocade and Zari textiles of Banaras is found in the 19th century.
With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat during the famine of 1603, it is likely that silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in the seventeenth century and developed in excellence during the 18th and 19th century. During the Mughal period, around 14th century, weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the specialty of Banaras.

Craft dying
Over the years, the Banarasi Silk handloom industry has been incurring huge losses because of the unfair competition from mechanised units producing the 'Baranasi silk sarees' at a much faster rate and at much cheaper cost, another source of competition has been sarees made of cheaper synthetic alternatives to silk.

Today there are four main varieties of Banarasi sari, which includes pure silk (Katan), Organza (Kora) with Zari and silk; Georgette, and Shattir, and according to design process, they are divided into categories like, Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar 
The  cloth i selected

 The saree from the Toronto museum project

A crimson red Hindu wedding Banarasi Saree. Decorated with twenty-two carat gold brocade, this saree is made of 100 % silk and was custom made around 1932. This particular Banarasi saree is designed with a floral motif – in this case the "buta" (single large flower) typical to Banaras brocades.

This particular saree was worn by Babi’s (tmp volunteer)  mother in 1932 and made of silk fabric imported from China.
Saree is from the Toronto project museum museum
   This saree signifies the place richness and purity of banaras,the zari increases the  esthetic value of the saree  and also shows status and the silk shows purity
Red is regarded as an auspicious colour because of its symbolic meaning tied to fertility, making it a suitable colour for brides and young married women.
Story of the saree

I felt really good wearing this saree in Toronto for the first time. Because it was my mother’s wedding saree, I felt a sense of pride. My friends admired the saree as well for its traditional uniqueness.

I was very pleased to see the saree being worn by women in my community because it’s the cultural garment for Tamil women. When my daughter wore her saree for the first time in Toronto, I was very happy to see her in this beautiful and respectful outfit.

I purchased my first saree in Toronto in 1989 on Gerrard Street at the India Bazaar. I noticed many people traveling to Toronto regularly visited the Gerrard Street Bazaar to see the stunning range of sarees sold there.

All Sri Lankan Tamils traditionally wear the saree for various functions; a tradition we continue here in Toronto. For me, the saree is a significant cultural expression. I like to see women from other cultures wearing the saree. I have cousins and friends who have married Australian and British women, who got married in a traditional saree called, Kanchipuram. These are different from my Banaras saree which is a much more traditional and valuable saree.
It would be very meaningful for me to pass this saree on to one of my daughters. Having received this saree from my mother, it is now important for me to have the saree passed down from one generation to another sharing its legacy for years to come. 

My project
In my installation I am trying to show identity of the cloth through the peoples perspective by draping  the  banarasi silk sari in a different way,  how people judge the other person by just looking at them at a 1st glance. No matter how democratic our country is we don’t feel free to dress how we like and move about in public, because a thought comes to our mind what will the society think of us. No matter if we wear a silk sari in our own way, even though it is a silk banarasi sari which is a symbol of wealth ,people will still stair at us as if we have done some sort of crime or something.

I have tried to show the expression of people through a performing art documentation.

I feel identity of cloth depends on all the aspects given above , now it it to u to decide

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dimensions: Height: 320 cm, Width: 287 cm
Place of Origin: Sicily, Italy
Date: 1360-1400
Displayed: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England 
Materials: Linen, linen thread

The Tristan quilt , sometimes called the Tristan and Isolde quilt , is one of the earliest surviving quilts in the world .Depicting scenes from the story of Tristan and Isolde , an influential romance and tragedy filled with wars and survivals , it was made it Sicily during the second half of the 13th century .There are at least two sections of the quilt , one of which is displayed in the Victoria and Albert museum .Medieval and renaissance galleries , and the other in bargello in Florence . A third quilt , also depicting Tristan and Isolde , but not thought to be a part of the V and A and bargello examples , is held in private hands .The Tristan quilts are the only known surviving examples of the medieval quilts.
The quilt is made from two layers of linen , stitched together without wading in between .A series of pictures with captions have been brought to relief by inserting rolls of cotton stuffing to raise sections of design , a technique known as trapunto.

The imagery on the quilt is based upon chapters, La Tavola Rotonda o L'Istoria di Tristano which describes the oppression of Cornwall, and the battle of Tristan on behalf of King Cornwall, The foliage on the quilt includes ivy and grapevine, a reference to the plants that grew and intertwined from the tombs of the doomed Tristan and Isolde. The scenes on the V&A quilt are not in their original order, having been re-arranged at some point. Each scene has a caption in Sicilian dialect.
The scenes depicted on the quilt are figurative and have characters performing their roles.The story is in 14 scenes , and tells the oppression of lord Cornwall and Tristan ultimate victory with the latter on behalf of his uncle King mark.

On studying the Tristan quilt in detail these were the following points that i inferred :
- direct depiction
- figurative
-strong characters
 I wanted to depict in a way in order to open up a new perspective of looking at the Tristan quilt in a more wide and abstract way.I have used the same concept / story behind the making of the quilt .and the depiction on it but used a different technique to construct it .
 I have used colors like deep blues , greens , indigo and black to intensify it and give it the look / feel of  the arrival and departure of a war. I used the tie and dye technique to bring out the required patterns  that i could relate to the required historic situation.I have focussed on the use of color , pattern and texture to depict the concept behind the quilt 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day  3
On this day we watched a short documentary “hidden treasures of India’’ it was all about how people look at textile as art. Spoke about how the art is dying , and even if it is still alive it is in the name of religion . The art is dying because it takes a really long time to make just one cloth and that time is just wasted without getting anything in return. The weavers don’t encourage their children to this because they think that it is better to study and become a doctor or engineer instead of slogging so much and hardly getting anything from it. Due to which they have migrated to cities just to earn a better living.
Later we had a presentation on what carpet motives actually mean. The presentation was basically questioning where carpets originally came from and were was it used and the motives and color of it represent. Carpets in the early times used to be seen on paintings, they have no archeological trace wherein in western renaissance paintings they were seen as table covers, in Islamic culture they are used to pray on and in India they were seen near the throne   of royal kings and queens or a person with power all these carpets had different motives. There was no relation at all within the person in the paintings and the carpet or the motives in it.

Each countries had different motives from another country, they took ideas and motives from other countries by trade, ever carpet had a story to tell altogether for instance the story of the gebergte . There were motives like sea bird forms and dragon forms throughout the Middle East, high breed animal and animals. These motives were mainly motifs from cutlery, Islamic, Chinese and European culture.
I learned a lot from this lecture like how people use the same carpet which is was used just to beautify the place in my dictionary and also learned that these carpets are not only a piece of cloth which is walked on but it is also used as an symbol of identity to show importance of a person with power and also to show an important event happening in paintings apart from the carpet itself it is used as a way of expression to symbolize the mix in culture through motives.

Can use this lecture in future when I need to read any particular cloth or carpet.