GUWAHATI, April 11 - A Vrindavani Vastra exhibition will be held at Chepstow Museum, United Kingdom in partnership with the British Museum organised by Anne Rainsbury, Curator, Chepstow Museum, Bridge Street, Chepstow, Monmouthshire from April 13-September 3, 2017, a press release received here stated.
This exhibition is centred on a remarkable object, which to outward appearances is an elegant 18th century gentleman�s dressing gown, known as a banyan (sort of dressing gown or informal coat over the shirt and breeches). What makes it very special, is its lining. This is made from a woven silk textile from Assam. It is one of a group of similar textiles known as �Vrindavani Vastra�, which means the cloth of Vrindavan, � a forested region in north India where Krishna is believed to have lived as a young cowherd early in his eventful life. Dramatic scenes from Krishna�s life are woven into these vibrant strips of cloth.
Only about 20 pieces of this type of textile survive today, in collections around the world. Chepstow Museum has invited Rini Kakati, FASS, and an NRI Assam Co-ordinator for the UK as a guest to celebrate �Hidden in the Lining � Krishna in the garden of Assam�.
In 2016, the banyan from Monmouthshire Museums Collections featured in the exhibition at the British Museum �Krishna in the Garden of Assam: the cultural context of an Indian textile�. That exhibition focussed on the largest surviving example of the Vrindavani Vastra type of textiles, now in the British Museum. At over 9 metres in length, it is made up of 12 separate lengths of cloth woven in Assam, which were stitched together later, probably in Tibet, with strips of damask and brocade along the top.
As it was impossible to display the original British Museum textile here in Chepstow, it has been reproduced by digitally printing onto fabric.
The British Museum textile and the lining of the banyan, were probably made in the same workshop and at about the same time. They both have the same brown background colour, the strips of cloth are of similar width, and the same scenes are shown.
The textiles probably date from around 1680 and are associated with the worship of Krishna. They are decorated with the same scenes from Krishna�s life that also feature in plays and dance dramas performed to music and with elaborate masks that are distinctive to the region. The exhibition also includes some spectacular masks made in a monastery in Assam where the dramas are enacted at a festival in late October. The monastery is one of a number on the island of Majuli in the Brahmaputra river. Some spectacular films made on the island during the festival will also be part of the exhibition, the release added.
The British Museum Vrindavani Vastra textile travelled from Assam to a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, while the textile that was cut to make the lining of the banyan that stars in the exhibition, travelled a different route to the West. Combined with a subtle Chinese blue green damask silk, the dressing gown was probably made in Calcutta for a European man who had made his fortune in India to wear in the West. New light has been shed on the possible identity of the owner, and how it came to be amongst a collection of 18th century costume in Monmouthshire�. This exhibition at Chepstow Museum explores the origins of these two amazing textiles and their intriguing history. The exhibition opens on Thursday April 13, coinciding not just with the start of Easter, but with the Assamese New Year Festival of Rongali Bihu.