- Circa 1800
122 x 77.5 cms
This decorative rumal made of cotton and embroidered with silk depicts Krishna and his marriage to Rukmini. The general composition represents a wedding celebration, containing processions of women, people playing instruments, various deities, animals, birds and various gods in attendance.
The embroidery art form of the Chamba rumal originated in the erstwhile princely hill states of Chamba, Kangra, Basohli and nearby states which now form part of the Himachal Pradesh. ‘Rumal’ means handkerchief, but Chamba Rumal is not used to be kept in the pocket. The creations came to be termed as rumals or scarves, as they were mainly produced in a square format
Chamba Rumal is an embroidery work that originated during the eighteenth century in the Chamba Valley. It is a kind of painting on cloth done with the help of needle and thread.
The artistic style of the Pahari (from the hills) miniature paintings which was influenced by Mughal Miniatures was reflected in the rumals which flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries. The embroidery on the rumal is the image of a miniature painting on fabric. It is also known as "Kashida". The Chamba embroidery is same on both sides and the ground is usually cream or white. The embroidery silks are in vibrant and prominent contrast and the embroidery is done on plain fine cotton or silk fabrics. The whole work is carried out in the running stitch, with no gaps. The space is adroitly filled in, so that the figures appear on both side of the rumal and the effect is almost the same as in the ancient mural on the wall of the princely palaces in Himachal Pradesh. It is almost as if the whole of the picture has been transplanted from the wall to the cloth and the resemblance between the rumal and mural becomes distinctive.
The colours of thread used in the Chamba rumal varied and no rumal was ever embroidered in a single colour. In the folk style, the colours used tended to be bright and bold and included pink, lemon yellow, purple and green. The present piece shows the top two rows of figures, eight musicians, there is a horse carriage with a rider trotting ahead on the right. On the left is a lamp stand, a few utensils, together with a bedstead. At the centre is a marriage pavilion showing birds perching on it at every vantage point. To the right of this are the deities, Ganesa, Siva, Brahma, and below them are Chandra, Surya with the eight armed Durga (Devi) on lotuses. Beneath the marriage pavilion the bride and the groom are seated on darbhasana (seat of sacred grass) in front of a priest. Behind the bride are seven ladies, ready to participate in the rituals. Another group of five ladies is also depicted in a lower row, two of whom are carrying offerings and one is a musician playing the drum. There is a ceremonial cow and a peacock in the same row. Beyond an immediate rectangular band of flowery scrolls, there is a thic band on two sides showing figures which are separated by willow trees which was a favourite of the Chamba embroiderers.
A related example can be found in the V&A, Coverlet (rumal), South and South East Asian Collection IS.2096-1883