July Issue 2015
Tradition and Inspiration
Walking through the exhibit, ‘A Flower in Every Meadow: Design and Innovation in Pakistan’s Dress Traditions’ at Mohatta Palace, spanning two centuries, one is awestruck by the beauty and the diversity of the work on display.
Curated by the museum director Nasreen Askari, the exhibition takes visitors for a stroll across the country, through its vast repertoire of textiles. It showcases items from the treasure troves of private collectors — some of them on display for the first time. “This allows us to foster pride in Pakistan’s cultural legacy,” remarked Askari at the launch.
Every piece is a labour of love and a work of art, depicting the entire culture of a region.
From hats and turbans to waistcoats and sashes; from Kashmiri shawls to Kohistani chogas; from mirror-worked Balochistan topis to cowrie shell Kalash headgear — it’s a veritable feast for the eyes.
Breathtaking are the long flowy kurtas from Kashmir and Kalash that are intricately worked on, with shells, coins, colourful embroidery of birds, rams and flowers.
The exhibition attempts to intertwine the “antique with the reinvented, the courtly with the domestic, and the functional with the ornamental,” says the brochure. It is a tribute to the artisans of the country, whose names we may never know but whose work resonates with us and proves to be an inspiration to the big players in the business of haute couture.
The display alongside, of works by the country’s leading contemporary designers — Bunto Kazmi, Khaadi, Maheen Khan, Nilofer Shahid, Rizwan Beyg, Shamael Ansari, Sonya Batla, Faiza Samee and Sana Safinaz — who have taken inspiration from the traditional crafts and used them in their work, is ample testimony of that.
The designers have replicated colour combinations, cuts, motifs, tie-and-dye techniques and embroidery from garments that are several decades old, proving that certain things are forever. They will be
carried forward from one generation to the next.
This article was originally published in Newsline’s July 2015 issue.
Raisa Vayani is an Editorial Assistant at Newsline