Art

Delicate imagery on cloth

To this day, the rural women in parts of Kanyakumari speak of the embroidery which the Missionary sisters of IMC - Mother Maria Louise and Maria Ursool - taught them and the other women in their family, centuries ago. Transforming stitches and threads they taught them to embroider frocks, dresses, saris, hankies, table and bed linen and to spin lace making a life for themselves and their families. Known as ‘convent embroidery,’ it creates delicate imagery on cloth, and has become part of the country’s eclectic craft heritage, At the ‘Convent Embroidery’ exhibition, organised by the Missionary Sisters of the IMC, Sister Teresita holds up a ravishing orange coloured Bruges lace sari, held together by filigree work lace flowers, vine and jaali work. “The work,” she says, “is done in separate pieces by rural women whom we have trained. The pieces are later joined together, almost seamlessly. The sari has taken a year to complete.” Done at the Infant Jesus Technical and Educational Institute at Moolangunmoodi in Kanyakumari, it is a rare craft heritage piece, created at the place where Bruges lace making is still practised.

A wealth of exquisite embroidered motifs on baby sets, frocks, tops and saris spells elegance and style at the exhibition. Fine shaded cut work done with incredible precision defines the bedspreads and table linen, done by the rural women trained at St Ursula’s Technical and Educational Institute at Kanyakumari. Organdie saris in pastels feature single leaf motifs combining cutwork, appliqué, embroidery and patchwork touched with sequins.

Delicate embroidered motifs of bouquets of roses, poppies and cornflower, flower and fruit with a touch of lace are found on towels, trolley and table cloths, taking one back to a more elegant era and lifestyle. All the work is done by economically marginalised rural women, or by the hearing-impaired and visually challenged.

The ‘Convent Embroidery’ exhibition is on till March 2, at Little Flower Convent, G.N. Chetty Road, near Gemini Flyover.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 9:22:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/delicate-imagery-on-cloth/article6936843.ece

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