The National Crafts Museum presents David and Mandeep Housego's personal collections & archives
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The National Crafts Museum presents David and Mandeep Housego's personal collections & archives
Tashkent Suzani, 19th century.

NEW DELHI.- Textile Connoisseurs and Founders of “Shades of India”, David and Mandeep Housego present "Bukhara", a first ever exhibition of their private collections & archives of textiles: Suzani, Carpets and Ikats that were unique to Central Asia in the 19th century from 1st to 15th February 2023 at the National Crafts Museum, New Delhi.

Bold, natural colours and striking abstract forms characterise the amazing textiles on display at this exhibition, capturing the intense creativity that evolved in the Bukhara region in the 19th Century. Amongst the more than forty pieces from the personal archives collected over the last 30 years by David and Mandeep, are the suzani hangings (unique embroideries generally of silk thread on a cotton base), Beshir rugs woven by Turkmen tribes, and sophisticated ikats worn by the wealthy drawing on the legacy of the Silk Route – influenced by Chinese porcelain, Mughal decoration and Persian carpets. Along with the abstract forms in striking blues, reds and yellows that mark many of the suzanis and ikats, are bouquets of flowers and intertwining stems that capture the beauty of a garden in a desert oasis, again typical of its time and region.

“My love for textiles started from Iran from where I collected antique tribal rugs while working as a journalist”, says David who has been an avid admirer of Indian crafts and textiles when he researched the East India Company and subsequently through his travels over the years across different parts of Asia. It is this very passion for textiles that led to the launch of the textile brand "Shades of India” with his wife Mandeep Nagi. This showing not only pays a spectacular ode to David & Mandeep’s love for textiles, but is also representative of the ethos and inspirations that come to life across all designs from the “Shades of India” repertoire. The exhibit showcases sixteen Suzanis, fourteen Carpets, six Chapans, two bags, one cap and three pieces of traditional jewellery along with one contemporary textile installation and two Indian shawls.

The exhibition is timed to coincide with the two major exhibitions at the Louvre and Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris that reveal the little-known legacy of Uzbekistan culture. “Though Uzbekistan is so geographically close to India and its textiles draw so heavily on Indian influence, the beautiful suzani, rugs and ikats are relatively unknown in India and am glad to have this opportunity to showcase my collection as a unique opportunity for craft & textile enthusiasts to have an immersive experience of Central Asian art which has long been difficult to access”, adds David.

“Bukhara”: The Personal Textile Collection of David & Mandeep Housego

Suzani embroideries (the term comes from the Tajik “needle-crafted”) are unique in design and technique to Central Asia, and particularly to the Uzbek and Tajik communities. Most suzani were embroidered in silk thread on cotton fabric – though some were silk on silk. The embroideries of Bukhara draw on both pomegranate motifs and a dazzling combination of flowers including carnations, iris, and tulips supported by sprigs of green foliage. Rosettes on the borders in the form of a blossoming flower were seen as a symbol of sun or moon and communicating a cosmic force to display the diversities and cultures of Uzbekistan.

The display also includes a large and finely woven main Tekke Turkmen rug from the early 19th century of which there is a similar piece in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Its rows of guls are characteristic of the Tekke – each Turkmen tribe having its own iconic gul as though a signature of the tribe.

Designs were inspired by all that filled Burkara, and the oases and deserts beyond. The Ikats drew on the tile work on mosques, the painted walls that decorated houses, the jewelry that women wore, in turtles and snakes, in the moon and star motifs in red copiously found in suzani, in the geometrical forms and lattice work of the woollen rugs of the nomadic Turkoman tribes, in the foliage and iconic forms from the Bronze age and later.

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