embroidery on khadi fabric
These 3 works are recreations of Chamba Rumals (handkerchief) from ancient India. I embroidered each in a style known as dophar embroidery, which means that the embroidered imagery can be viewed from 2 perspectives: thus the back of the rumal has the same embroidery form as the front. I wanted to spend a moment contemplating this technique and how it lends to history and the way we see our history: from more than one perspective. The 3 rumals outline the intrinsic role that women played, and continue to play in the Indian landscape. The first rumal: a recreation fo the epic Ramayana, while a triumphant tale of emancipation, talks about the way a man saves his wife, and considers her impure after. In my iteration, the women in this scene are in fact saving the men, who here, play the 'damsel' in distress. The second rumal: a modern day shikarga (hunting scene) shows women mounted atop horses and catching their prey, instead of the valiant man (for whom hunting as a sport was exclusively reserved). The third rumal: a mobile shrine of the 8 Mahavidyas (the ten Mahavidyas, or Wisdom Goddesses, represent distinct aspects of divinity intent on guiding the spiritual seeker toward liberation) proudly exemplifies the manner in which women were worshiped, yet treated as objects of the patriarchy for the better part of Indian history.
These rumals have been sold to raise money to support the primary education of the daughters of the women in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh (wherefrom this craft originates) who practice the craft of dophar embroidery till this day.