Delhi’s National Craft Museum is set to host a captivating exploration into the largely uncharted world of 19th and early 20th-century gelims (flat woven rugs), rugs, horse blankets, and saddlebags in an immersive two-week exhibition titled “Nomad”. Scheduled to run from January 29, 2024 to February 12, 2024, the exhibition promises to unveil the unexpected connections between these historical textiles and contemporary art.
The National Crafts Museum, located at Pragati Maidan, will welcome visitors daily from 10 am to 6 pm during the exhibition period. The showcase boasts an array of over 50 to 60 pieces, all hailing from the 19th or early 20th century. Crafted from hand-spun and hand-woven wool, predominantly dyed in natural hues, these textiles exhibit a strikingly contemporary sense of design.
Originating from a vast region spanning eastern Turkey, the Caucasus, Iran, and Turkestan, these textiles reflect the rich cultural heritage of nomadic tribes. These tribes, navigating the rugged terrains, moved their flocks of sheep, camels, and goats between lowlands in winter and high mountain pastures in summer, contributing to a distinct textile culture.
Despite often living in primitive conditions, the nomadic tribes displayed an extraordinary sense of colour and form. The textiles showcase a vibrant palette of reds, indigo blue, green, yellow, and black, attaining richness and durability from the use of natural dyes. The abstract designs bear a resemblance to contemporary paintings, incorporating depictions of birds, animals, flowers, figures, and motifs from daily life.
The vastness of the region resulted in different tribal groups developing unique artistic languages. Kurds, Turks, Shahsavan, Qashgai, Bakhtiars, Khamseh, Afshar, Baluch, and Turkmans each contributed to this rich tapestry. However, due to forced displacements, common motifs, such as the widely used boteh (paisley), are found in pieces from the Caucasus, western Iran, and Central Asia, possibly inspired by Indian influences.
Curated by Amita Goel, the Nomad exhibition aims to introduce the Indian audience to a tradition that might be less familiar to them. The showcase draws from the collections of David and Mandeep Housego, accumulated over an extended period with numerous pieces collected during travels in the region. Additionally, outstanding contributions from Danny and Renuka Mehra’s extensive collection enrich the exhibition.
Where: National Crafts Museum, Pragati Maidan
When: 10 am to 6 pm; January 29 to February 12