Chamba Rumal Embroidery of Himachal Pradesh

Chamba Rumal Embroidery of Himachal Pradesh

Languishing Craft

Althought embroidered through Himachal the embroidery is associated specifically with Chamba owing to the patronage by rulers of the area. Traditionally, the Chamba rumals were embroidered on square pieces of fabric that were used to cover offerings of food, gifts, offerings to a deity, gifts exchanged between the families of the bride and the groom and other purposes. Chamba rumals have been called 'paintings in embroidery' due to the theme being similar to those painted on miniatures. Practiced by women from all strata of Pahari society, the embroidery style differed between the folk and the court styles. The style developed by the court, embroidered by the women of the upper classes and the royalty has now come to be exclusively related to the craft. Though some themes were similar all else differed as artists trained in the Pahari miniature tradition often rendered the base drawing on which the embroidery was done, often providing the color palette too, for upper class women to follow. Themes centered on the depiction of the God Krishna and his devotees. They included scenes from the Raaslila, Raasmandal , the Ashtanayika, Godhuli - literally the'hour of cowdust' when Krishna and his cowherd friends bringing the cows back at dusk and other themes, While the folk tradition used vibrant colours the court tradition used subdued, coordinated shades. Traditionally, the Chamba rumals were embroidered on square pieces of handspun and handwoven unbleached fine mulmul cloth The embroidery was done using untwisted silk yarn in a double satin stitch technique known as dorukha, where both sides of the embroidered cloth were identical. The embroidery yarn and stitch is similar to the Phulkari embroideries of Punjab. Court themes included other subjects relating to the lives of the embroiders and often derived from the wall paintings of the Rang Mahal of Chamba and the Pahari miniature tradition including the royal hunts, the game of dice - chaupad.. Products embroidered now include caps, hand held fans, blouses, dress material, table and household linen etc. There has been a revival of this tradition with the Delhi Crafts Council working to create pieces based on the court tradition.

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