Book explores the legacy of the Kashmir Shawl as seen through a single private collection

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Book explores the legacy of the Kashmir Shawl as seen through a single private collection
India has long been regarded as one of the most important centres of textile art and production in the world.

MUMBAI.- Saffronart, India’s leading auction house for art and collectibles hosted the launch of the book Kashmir Shawls – The TAPI Collection, authored by internationally reputed textile scholars Steven Cohen, Rosemary Crill, Monique Lévi-Strauss and Jeffrey B. Spurr.

The latest in a series of publications based on the TAPI Collection’s important holdings of historic Indian textiles, this book was released by fashion designer and author Wendell Rodricks at Saffronart, Mumbai.

India has long been regarded as one of the most important centres of textile art and production in the world. Treasured by royalty in India and exported to countries ranging from Western Europe to South East Asia, India’s unparalleled textile traditions date back to over 3000 years. This particular volume, published by The Shoestring Publisher in Mumbai, offers scholars and collectors several new insights into the history of shawl making in Kashmir, one of the most important of India’s textile art traditions.

Exploring the nature and development of Kashmiri shawls between the 17th and early 20th centuries, essays in the book draw on examples of these exquisite textiles from the TAPI Collection as well as comparable pieces in other renowned national and international collections.

Speaking about Kashmiri shawls, collector Shilpa Shah notes, “From Mughal emperors to the aristocracy of northern India, Bengal and the Deccan, the Kashmir shawl remained a coveted article of male winter fashion till the 19th century. By the 20th century, many of these shawls were cut up to make fashionable ladies' shawls. The love of shawls runs in the veins of all northerners, an aspect which escapes most of us warm-weather west-coasters. Kashmir shawls have been recognised the world over as the single most prized textile from the Indian subcontinent. The exquisite delicacy of design and lightness, warmth and softness of the pashmina wool has given the Kashmir shawl the cachet it has.”

The TAPI Collection of Indian textiles put together by Shilpa and Praful Shah, was initially envisioned as a resource for design and a celebration of the rich heritage of textile traditions in India. Since the 1980s, when it was started, it has grown into one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Indian textiles.

TAPI is an acronym that stands for ‘Textiles & Art of the People of India’, but also pays homage to the Tapi River, which serves as the ‘life force’ of the textile town of Surat in Gujarat, where the collection is based. Besides a fine collection of Kashmiri shawls, the TAPI collection includes textiles from Mughal and provincial royal courts, textiles from the 15th to 19th centuries that were specifically produced for export markets, folk textiles, historic regional embroidery, and important religious textiles.

Speaking about the book, Co-founder and CEO of Saffronart, Dinesh Vazirani said, “We are privileged to be associated with a book which brings together the desire to celebrate the richness of the Indian textile traditions and to provide an exhaustively researched resource for scholars and collectors. The book will help people explore, enjoy, and rediscover the world of design through textile art and technology; to explore the past, understand the present, and shape the future.”

Well-known fashion designer and author, Wendell Rodricks said, “It gives me great pleasure to launch this book which explores the essence of one of the Indian subcontinent’s most unique design achievements. The Kashmir shawls in the TAPI collection are outstanding examples of our rich textile heritage, and continue to provide me and other contemporary designers with inspiration.”

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