The embroidered art of Chamba rumals emerged in the princely hill states of Chamba, Basoli,Kangra and adjacent areas in present day Himachal Pradesh. Though practiced throughout the region, it came to be associated with Chamba because of the continued patronage by its rulers and the style and colors of the rumal which were influenced by the miniature painting traditions of Chamba. The rumal is the image of the painting in embroidery.
|It is apparent from the rumals which have existed dating back to the 18th and 19th century that the drawings were made by the miniature artists and embroidered by women of the nobility who developed a high level of sophistication and stylization. The themes of the rumal were mainly religious, with special favor given to the raasmandal and scenes from the life of Krishna. The fabric was usually handspun or hand woven unbleached mulmul or fine khaddar. The embroidery was done in a double satin stitch using untwisted pure silk yarn. The rumals were used as covers for offerings made at weddings, festive and religious occasions.|
|Chamba rumals were being made till early the 20th century but suffered with
the decline of the feudal system of patronage. The original designs and colours were lost, the rumals were being embroidered on low grade fabric with chemically dyed threads. The embroidery was of bad quality and it had degenerated to calendar art.
Objectives of the Project
Embroidery continued to be a popular pastime for the women who now were selling them made on ordinary items like pillowcases etc.
Sixteen designs from various museums, including the National Museum, New Delhi, Buri Singh Museum, Chamba, Indian Museum, Kolkatta, Crafts Museum, New Delhi and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London were identified and photographed.
The next step was to source the material used to make the rumals.
With changed times and machine made materials having replaced the hand made it was difficult. A close substitute – hand woven fabric/ khadi as the base cloth – was selected.
For the embroidery yarn the local markets were scoured. It was a failed attempt to source naturally dyed untwisted floss silk yarn. An alternative of untwisted but synthetic yarn dyed in a wide range of colors was eventually found in a local market in N. Delhi.
Now that the patterns, the fabric and the yarn were finalized, a few women embroiderers and a miniature artist in Chamba were chosen to execute the rumals.
Due to distance , lack of communication facilities between Chamba and Delhi and initial teething problems the pace of work was slow. However eventually the concept, the quality standards required, the level of excellence expected from the embroiderers and the artist was achieved and over a period of 3 to 4 years,16 rumals were produced.
The DCC is reexamining their marketing strategy to identify new markets and new methods of distributions of the rumals. Their next attempt is going to be to organize i exhibitions outside the country as well to promote the artistic, social and cultural worth of this exclusive art of Chamba rumal embroidery.