Live Cultural Heritages
Jasleen Dhamija
INDIAN SHAWLS: MANTLES OF SPLENDOUR; INDIAN CARPETS: A HAND-KNOTTED HERITAGE by Asha Rani Mathur Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2004, 96 pp., 495.00
April 2004, volume 28, No 4

These two well illustrated slim books on the living cultural heritage of India are easy to handle and priced modestly. Asha Rani Mathur writes with felicity. In her book on the Indian Shawls she covers some of the major shawl making areas. Kashmir shawls get the maximum coverage, which is followed by a detailed study of the Phulkari and Bagh and the Naga shawls. The final chapter covers all the other areas, which does not do justice to the shawls of Himachal, Rajasthan and Gujarat, which have a rich and distinctive tradition. The author’s research is based on published materials. The Kashmir shawl chapter gives a detailed history of the subject, showing the evolution from the early subtle shawls with richly woven cross borders, fine side borders and plain surface, to the moon shawls, patkas and the later elaborate square and long shawls. The commercial importance and the resulting influences are given in detail. However, no mention is made of the dhussa, the man’s shawl with a woven small border and edging, which is the earliest shawl mentioned in pre-Islamic texts and is possibly the precursor of the patterned woven shawl.

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