A Flower from Every Meadow at Mohatta Palace
Charting almost two centuries worth of textile legacy, an exhibition titled ‘A Flower from Every Meadow’ opened at the Mohatta Palace on Wednesday in the presence of artists, critics, designers and art lovers.
The show aims to provide a semblance of order to the trajectory of textile evolution in the country and displays pieces dating as far back as the 1830s.
Thematically, the exhibition is broken down into different facets of textiles — from tie and dye, to woven, vintage and much more.
Curator Nasreen Askari said: “This repertoire of textiles encompasses design and innovation in Pakistan’s dress tradition, from the Arabian Sea to Indus-Kohistan”. Her own private collection, spanning almost 42 years, is also part of the exhibition.
“We have introduced private collections never seen before. The loss of these textile traditions is anachronistic and this is an attempt to remedy that,” she said, commenting on the necessity of the exhibition.
“This will allow us to foster pride in Pakistan’s cultural legacy.”
Private collectors, who have displayed their pieces, include former princely states of Hyderabad and Kalat. Other patrons include the Sindh Provincial Museum and the National Museum of Pakistan.
Installations were also part of the exhibition such as one that highlighted the process of tie dyeing (bandhani), displaying the entire process from the mixing of colours to the actual dyeing. Ajrak block printing using carved wooden blocks was being done in one corner of the room, and a khes weaver completed the picture, working on the Bulbul-i-Chashm (eye of the nightingale), a special diamond weave. It was heartening to see the faces behind the work. Each had a master craftsman at work, sharing his experience and his story.
An Indus Kohistan corner featured a hujra, a recreation of a dwelling that traditionally functioned as a space for receiving guests. Alongside was the area’s traditional dress, in sheep’s wool, with bright Kohistani embroidery.
Balochi embroidery with its intricate geometric patterns was also on display while care was taken to identify the variations in arrangement and colour in the embroidery from different Baloch communities.
Contemporary designers were then given space to express their inspirations with the aim to “illustrate the continuity and innovation in the country’s dress tradition”. Free to represent any particular aspect that inspired them, be it the cut, colour or embellishment, featured designers included Faiza Samee, Maheen Khan, Bunto Kazmi and Rizwan Beyg.
Samee’s collection was a classicist revival of embroidered work that has long dwindled out of mainstream use, which she considers unfortunate. “When I realised that the work my mother had got made was no longer available in the market, I decided to embark on reviving this traditional work.”
Considering it as a research project, she decided to search out craftsmen who could help revive this lost art form. “My collection is a tribute to the craftsmen long gone.”
Designer Maheen Khan called her collection a “patronage to the Pathan shopkeeper.” Her initiative is to revive the silk handloom industry in Orangi Town, where the silk weaving craft is fading away despite it being passed down to generations.
‘A Flower from Every Meadow’ is the Mohatta Palace’s 19th exhibition, an extraordinary undertaking that focuses on both the technical and historical significance of the antique and the modern in textiles.
Managing Trustee of the Mohatta Palace Hameed Haroon spoke about how the exhibition is “a structurally important decision for the building-up of the museum”.
Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari and Begum Mazari were present to formally declare the opening of the exhibition.
The exhibition opens to the public on Thursday at 11am. The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 11am to 6pm.