For this Diwali, while scouting around I discovered this treasure trove. It had been weeks since Salim Wazir and I, connected over facebook. As a local of Bhuj, Gujarat, he is probably one of the best guides to tell you about the regional food, architecture, arts and crafts etc. since 20 years; and a keen photographer of the ‘Jewel of Western India’.
I’d also like to draw your attention to his family’s museum quality textiles which are sure to inject good design sense in any living space, this festive season.
Banjara Lambadi tribe textiles are A.A Wazir’s personal favorites which belong to Bellary, Karnataka.
On behest of a close friend, Salim’s father – A.A. Wazir, left his job as a miniature painting restorer at the Prince of Wales Museum to come back to his village in Kutch, and begun collecting textiles (in 1971). Being collectors of antique Indian textiles and embroideries for over 45 years, they have had the opportunity to work closely with international museums, collectors and designers to procure quality pieces which tell the expansive history of India.
(Top)East Punjab Phulkari, India (Below)Baugh Phulkari from West Punjab, Pakistan
Infact, recently the Wazirs made it to a coveted list, compiled by Architectural Digest India, featuring 25 stores and dealers of heritage pieces. With over 3000 period embroideries from all the communities of Kutch in Gujarat, Phulkari shawls from East and West Punjab, vintage Kantha from modern-day Bangladesh or West Bengal and of South Indian Banjara-Lambadi tribe, they are an authority for design students and connoisseurs, alike.
Lamenting, Salim spoke about the difficulties of sourcing such priceless pieces, since many crafts had switched to machines decades ago, discontinuing the tedious fine handiwork. Being a discerner he gave credit to the efforts of NGOs like Khamir, Qasab, Kala Raksha and Shrujan, for trying their level best to keep the rich past alive.
Very Unusual Kantha from – Jessore or Faridpur, Bangladesh. It shows the scenes of British times in Mumbai. This work belongs to the late 19th century. In one portion we see one boat which has several fisherman, which was the main business during that time. On other side there is a church, a horse cart in which two English ladies are travelling, guarded by two British soldiers. Another corner depicts water carriers and cleaners working in front of Gateway of India and on top of that gate we see Lion standing. There is one officer on horse back looking-on the workers. While an aristocrat Indian lady is shown carried in a palanquin.
As the story goes, when slow living was the usual way of life, such artworks were collected and given away as ‘streedhan’ or dowry. Infact, the maiden was only considered marriageable when her exact number of embroideries were complete. This custom helped the young brides find solace, with the pieces serving as gentle reminders of parents’ home, in an unknown house.
This practice too was broken three decades ago by the Dhebaria Rabaris. They banned embroidery within their community since the girls took too long to finish, and further delayed their marriage. Hence, such works have become rare finds.
Dhebaria Rabari Kediyo ( jacket )It must be approximately 40 /50 years old. Is special and unique because the owner’s name is embroidered on it. Generally these jackets were made by the sisters for their brothers as a sign of love and respect.
Now, only a handful of people are left with that skillset or knowhow. Embroidery was earlier taken up by women as a form of entertainment. But, in this Accelerated Age, natural dying, traditional weaving and embroidery etc. are all expensive and time-consuming activities. The only silver lining to the dark cloud are the statistics which state otherwise, that 60% of the traditional block printers have gone back to their vocation.
Asta Mangal, depicts the Eight signs of Good Luck embroidered by the Jain Nuns belonging to West Kutch, Gujarat. It must be approximately 80 / 90 years old.
Concluding, Salim, let me in a family secret of opening a private Textile Museum in the near future; or possibly a clothing line that’ll incorporate the regional crafts. Hearing that, a purist’s heart felt a tug and knew exactly where to head this winter…..since history in everything am surrounded by is my biggest high!
Salim Wazir / A. A. Wazir / Khalid Wazir
Museum Quality Textiles, 107/B-1. Lotus Colony, Opp – GK General Hospital.
Bhuj – Kutch. 370001. Gujarat. India
Tel # 02832 224187
A. A. Wazir +91 9427439671
Salim Wazir +91 9825715504.