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Jaipur Quilts
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Jaipur Quilts
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About the Book

 

Jaipur, the famed Pink City of Rajasthan conjures up images of a bygone era in the mind's eye. Of royalty and stories of gallantry and battlefield valour; of a desert landscape poised against vivid shades of colour; of art and aesthetics and above all, its vibrant people. Built in AD 1727, the splendour of its palaces and forts and the breathtaking array of its traditional crafts continue to attract tourists and connoisseurs of history and art from all corners of the world. The Jaipur textile industry has for long, inspired countless artists and designers to create exquisite products of both beauty and utility. The Jaipuri razai is a perfect example of this exclusive trend in its display of excellent traditional craftsmanship and aesthetic beauty as well as its high utility value.

 

About the Author

 

Krystyna Hellstrom was born in Poland and lives in Stockholm, Sweden. She studied interior design in Florence, Italy, and History of Art at Lund University, Sweden. Her thesis was on Jaipur and Provencal quilts.

 

Krystyna worked with Swedish Television and for Emilio Pucci in his fashion house in Florence, which was one of the best places in the world to learn about exquisite textiles and original design. Writing for interior design magazines has been a natural outlet for her creative and writing skills.

 

Having visited India and especially Jaipur many times since the early eighties, Krystyna learned about Jaipur quilts and the local quilt-making tradition on these visits.

 

Foreword

 

Jaipur has been my home for many years now and I have watched the city grow and change over these last three decades. From a population of barely eight lakh in the 1970s, the city is now bursting at its seams with a population of thirty-seven lakh. The look and feel of the city has also changed over the years with the city's limits expanding and a lot of new buildings coming up in the new areas of the modern part of the city.

 

What hasn't changed too much, thankfully, is the character of the Walled City, better known and recognised as the Pink City. The eighteenth century look and feel of the planned city still impresses and attracts the visitor. Even after having written extensively about the city and its numerous attractions, I still felt that there was so much more to discover and so much more to record.

 

One area that has been a little neglected is the craft segment. Jaipur is recognised the world over for its wide range of arts and crafts giving it a well-deserved reputation as a shoppers' paradise. From jewellery to stoneware, from textiles to blue pottery ... it's a long, long list.

 

Among the many handcrafted items that the Pink City is famous for, the Jaipuri razai, or the Jaipur quilt occupies an important place. Block-printed cotton fabric with some exquisite designs carefully filled with as little as 250 gm (or more) of cotton -wool that is spread evenly and stitched in traditional patterns ... In fact their popularity and reach can be gauged by the number of framed photographs of celebrity customers, from high ranking politicians to film stars, that are displayed in shops in the old city.

 

When you read Krystyna's interesting account you'll look at these quilts a lot more carefully instead of taking them for granted as most people in Jaipur tend to do. We see them all the time, we use them regularly and we even gift them to our friends and relatives. In fact, they are so much a part of our daily lives that we don't always give them the importance or attention that they deserve. It took a Polish woman to set that right!

 

When Krystyna Hellstrom met me last year through a mutual friend and showed me her book on Jaipur quilts, I was pleasantly surprised and a little taken aback because despite having written so much about Rajasthan and several aspects of Jaipur, a book on the famed jaipuri razai had never occurred to me!

 

Krystyna has had a long relationship with the quilts and quilt-makers of Jaipur and she has recorded her interactions with them in a very readable way. She has researched and documented this craft beautifully.

 

Jaipur Quilts is a very well-written and illustrated book and provides an in- depth look into the wonderfully creative world of the quilt-maker, touching upon the contributions of the block-printer, the filler to the craftsman who stitches intricate patterns on these beautifully designed and lightweight quilts.

 

This book will give readers a detailed look into a craft that they too may have just taken for granted.

 

Preface

 

Around 250 years ago, Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Jaipur, brought the quilt makers from neighbouring hamlets to the Pink City and settled them down. Since then the Jaipur quilts have created a rich tradition for themselves. The two most popular varieties available in the market are cotton and velvet. New customer markets for the Jaipuri razai are opening up gradually.

 

My intention is to give the reader a general idea about Jaipur quilts and the tradition of quilting in the world. I have also made an effort to present to the reader a visual experience of the beauty of the quilts through some of my photographs. I have quoted some authors on subjects that I personally did not research or write and have freely rendered the authors' thoughts instead. Chandramani Singh was my guide on Jaipur textiles and she advised me to use the catalogue she wrote for the City Palace Museum- Textiles and Costumes from the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum-which was an important source of information. My task was to go to Jaipur and find some of the people who produce, de-sign or collect the best of quilts, interview them and photograph the quilts and the people associated with their production and popularity. Building the concept and writing my book was like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle-finding the correct pieces and fitting them in to slowly create the whole image. I am sure some pieces are still missing and perhaps the discerning reader can take up the task of completing the picture after reading this book.

 

Dear reader, thank you for picking up my book. I hope it will be useful and will let you spend a few moments pleasantly.

 

Introduction

 

One cold December evening in the early nineties, I stepped into an international bookshop in Stockholm in a rather gloomy mood. My eyes caught the new issue of Architektur & Wohnen with the title: Creative India Discovered by Trendsetters. I looked through the magazine and was taken aback by the pictures and stories about the people and the beautiful things it featured. The issue presented Charles Correa, one of the best Indian architects in contemporary times and one of his creations-the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur. This was a cultural centre dedicated to Jawaharlal Nehru, with galleries, a library, museum and a theatre.

 

Next in line was Asha Sarabhai, a minimalistic designer from Ahmedabad, with her famous boutique Egg in London, followed by Brigitte Singh, the French-born designer of exquisite clothes, quilts and textiles, living in close proximity to Jaipur. And finally there was the legendary Kitty Rae, who started the commercial production of quilts in Jaipur in 1963. What captured my attention was the adaptation of the razai or the Indian quilt-a traditional handicraft-to suit modern tastes and needs and the fresh new style created for a demanding international clientele.

 

The gloom disappeared magically and I decided to visit India. I wanted to meet the producers and to see and touch the beautiful objects, which enchanted me. It did not cross my mind that nobody was actually waiting for me in Jaipur. However, I guess my enthusiasm subsequently opened a few doors and I was able to achieve my goal in the end.

 

I arrived in Jaipur, ready to explore and enjoy. The fact that a well-known designer had accorded me a rendezvous perhaps melted the heart of the manager of Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur. He actually found me a room in the fully booked hotel!

 

After a halting start things started to improve and over the years I made friends in Jaipur. Gradually, I also developed the opportunity to get to know a few quilt producers, printers, designers, jewellers and art dealers. I came to understand how rich the tradition of handicrafts was in Jaipur and see how talented even the lesser known artists and craftsmen were.

 

I often wished more people knew about Jaipur quilts. Although I met a few regular visitors to Jaipur who are somewhat addicted to these quilts, as I am, it is more like a secret society of quilt lovers who remain hidden from the public eye.

 

Slowly the thought of creating an album on quilts emerged, and Chandramani Singh, an Indian textile expert, promised to give me a helping hand. It seemed that there was an absence of documented material on the history of Jaipur quilts, at least in English or other languages, which I spoke. I contacted the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London and when I received the answer that the museum did not have anything on Jaipur quilts either, I decided to produce this book.

 

Quilts are meant for everyday use and at the same time they are stylish pieces of traditional handicraft and art. They can be used as a blanket or duvet and also as bedcovers. The light cotton fabric breathes. Should one quilt not be enough, you can put several on top of each- other and create layers of warmth.

 

The patterns and colours may differ but they still look chic together. If a quilt is really thin, you can decorate your table with it, or even hang it as a curtain. It will keep the heat out in summer and lend the room warmth when the cold days come. You can wrap your favourite quilt around you when you watch television, read a book and also take it to the beach.

 

Jaipur quilts are made of very fine cotton fabric, called 'mulmul' and are filled with fluffed-up cotton wool. The air pockets make them warm, soft, light and fluffy. The soft cotton fabric cover has block-printed designs and is stitched usually by hand. The designs come in bright hues as well as muted pastel shades, using traditional motifs of flowers, leaves, plants and geometric shapes, often assimilating them in a stylised, contemporary form.

 

Contents

 

Foreword

9

Preface

11

Introduction

13

Jaipur: the Pink City

17

Of quilts and quilting

39

The origins and the making

53

Old quilt makers

73

The legendary Kitty Rae

93

Soma: Comfort, culture, craft

109

Mughal garden

125

Urban charm

141

Antique textile revivalists

157

Artist in residence

173

Epilogue

185

Acknowledgements

189

Addresses: Designers, Producers and Museums

193

Bibliography

195

Glossary

197

Index

201

 

Sample Pages



Jaipur Quilts

Item Code:
NAK524
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2012
Publisher:
Niyogi Books
ISBN:
9788192091259
Language:
English
Size:
10.5 inch x 8.5 inch
Pages:
204 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 750 gms
Price:
$55.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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About the Book

 

Jaipur, the famed Pink City of Rajasthan conjures up images of a bygone era in the mind's eye. Of royalty and stories of gallantry and battlefield valour; of a desert landscape poised against vivid shades of colour; of art and aesthetics and above all, its vibrant people. Built in AD 1727, the splendour of its palaces and forts and the breathtaking array of its traditional crafts continue to attract tourists and connoisseurs of history and art from all corners of the world. The Jaipur textile industry has for long, inspired countless artists and designers to create exquisite products of both beauty and utility. The Jaipuri razai is a perfect example of this exclusive trend in its display of excellent traditional craftsmanship and aesthetic beauty as well as its high utility value.

 

About the Author

 

Krystyna Hellstrom was born in Poland and lives in Stockholm, Sweden. She studied interior design in Florence, Italy, and History of Art at Lund University, Sweden. Her thesis was on Jaipur and Provencal quilts.

 

Krystyna worked with Swedish Television and for Emilio Pucci in his fashion house in Florence, which was one of the best places in the world to learn about exquisite textiles and original design. Writing for interior design magazines has been a natural outlet for her creative and writing skills.

 

Having visited India and especially Jaipur many times since the early eighties, Krystyna learned about Jaipur quilts and the local quilt-making tradition on these visits.

 

Foreword

 

Jaipur has been my home for many years now and I have watched the city grow and change over these last three decades. From a population of barely eight lakh in the 1970s, the city is now bursting at its seams with a population of thirty-seven lakh. The look and feel of the city has also changed over the years with the city's limits expanding and a lot of new buildings coming up in the new areas of the modern part of the city.

 

What hasn't changed too much, thankfully, is the character of the Walled City, better known and recognised as the Pink City. The eighteenth century look and feel of the planned city still impresses and attracts the visitor. Even after having written extensively about the city and its numerous attractions, I still felt that there was so much more to discover and so much more to record.

 

One area that has been a little neglected is the craft segment. Jaipur is recognised the world over for its wide range of arts and crafts giving it a well-deserved reputation as a shoppers' paradise. From jewellery to stoneware, from textiles to blue pottery ... it's a long, long list.

 

Among the many handcrafted items that the Pink City is famous for, the Jaipuri razai, or the Jaipur quilt occupies an important place. Block-printed cotton fabric with some exquisite designs carefully filled with as little as 250 gm (or more) of cotton -wool that is spread evenly and stitched in traditional patterns ... In fact their popularity and reach can be gauged by the number of framed photographs of celebrity customers, from high ranking politicians to film stars, that are displayed in shops in the old city.

 

When you read Krystyna's interesting account you'll look at these quilts a lot more carefully instead of taking them for granted as most people in Jaipur tend to do. We see them all the time, we use them regularly and we even gift them to our friends and relatives. In fact, they are so much a part of our daily lives that we don't always give them the importance or attention that they deserve. It took a Polish woman to set that right!

 

When Krystyna Hellstrom met me last year through a mutual friend and showed me her book on Jaipur quilts, I was pleasantly surprised and a little taken aback because despite having written so much about Rajasthan and several aspects of Jaipur, a book on the famed jaipuri razai had never occurred to me!

 

Krystyna has had a long relationship with the quilts and quilt-makers of Jaipur and she has recorded her interactions with them in a very readable way. She has researched and documented this craft beautifully.

 

Jaipur Quilts is a very well-written and illustrated book and provides an in- depth look into the wonderfully creative world of the quilt-maker, touching upon the contributions of the block-printer, the filler to the craftsman who stitches intricate patterns on these beautifully designed and lightweight quilts.

 

This book will give readers a detailed look into a craft that they too may have just taken for granted.

 

Preface

 

Around 250 years ago, Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Jaipur, brought the quilt makers from neighbouring hamlets to the Pink City and settled them down. Since then the Jaipur quilts have created a rich tradition for themselves. The two most popular varieties available in the market are cotton and velvet. New customer markets for the Jaipuri razai are opening up gradually.

 

My intention is to give the reader a general idea about Jaipur quilts and the tradition of quilting in the world. I have also made an effort to present to the reader a visual experience of the beauty of the quilts through some of my photographs. I have quoted some authors on subjects that I personally did not research or write and have freely rendered the authors' thoughts instead. Chandramani Singh was my guide on Jaipur textiles and she advised me to use the catalogue she wrote for the City Palace Museum- Textiles and Costumes from the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum-which was an important source of information. My task was to go to Jaipur and find some of the people who produce, de-sign or collect the best of quilts, interview them and photograph the quilts and the people associated with their production and popularity. Building the concept and writing my book was like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle-finding the correct pieces and fitting them in to slowly create the whole image. I am sure some pieces are still missing and perhaps the discerning reader can take up the task of completing the picture after reading this book.

 

Dear reader, thank you for picking up my book. I hope it will be useful and will let you spend a few moments pleasantly.

 

Introduction

 

One cold December evening in the early nineties, I stepped into an international bookshop in Stockholm in a rather gloomy mood. My eyes caught the new issue of Architektur & Wohnen with the title: Creative India Discovered by Trendsetters. I looked through the magazine and was taken aback by the pictures and stories about the people and the beautiful things it featured. The issue presented Charles Correa, one of the best Indian architects in contemporary times and one of his creations-the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur. This was a cultural centre dedicated to Jawaharlal Nehru, with galleries, a library, museum and a theatre.

 

Next in line was Asha Sarabhai, a minimalistic designer from Ahmedabad, with her famous boutique Egg in London, followed by Brigitte Singh, the French-born designer of exquisite clothes, quilts and textiles, living in close proximity to Jaipur. And finally there was the legendary Kitty Rae, who started the commercial production of quilts in Jaipur in 1963. What captured my attention was the adaptation of the razai or the Indian quilt-a traditional handicraft-to suit modern tastes and needs and the fresh new style created for a demanding international clientele.

 

The gloom disappeared magically and I decided to visit India. I wanted to meet the producers and to see and touch the beautiful objects, which enchanted me. It did not cross my mind that nobody was actually waiting for me in Jaipur. However, I guess my enthusiasm subsequently opened a few doors and I was able to achieve my goal in the end.

 

I arrived in Jaipur, ready to explore and enjoy. The fact that a well-known designer had accorded me a rendezvous perhaps melted the heart of the manager of Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur. He actually found me a room in the fully booked hotel!

 

After a halting start things started to improve and over the years I made friends in Jaipur. Gradually, I also developed the opportunity to get to know a few quilt producers, printers, designers, jewellers and art dealers. I came to understand how rich the tradition of handicrafts was in Jaipur and see how talented even the lesser known artists and craftsmen were.

 

I often wished more people knew about Jaipur quilts. Although I met a few regular visitors to Jaipur who are somewhat addicted to these quilts, as I am, it is more like a secret society of quilt lovers who remain hidden from the public eye.

 

Slowly the thought of creating an album on quilts emerged, and Chandramani Singh, an Indian textile expert, promised to give me a helping hand. It seemed that there was an absence of documented material on the history of Jaipur quilts, at least in English or other languages, which I spoke. I contacted the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London and when I received the answer that the museum did not have anything on Jaipur quilts either, I decided to produce this book.

 

Quilts are meant for everyday use and at the same time they are stylish pieces of traditional handicraft and art. They can be used as a blanket or duvet and also as bedcovers. The light cotton fabric breathes. Should one quilt not be enough, you can put several on top of each- other and create layers of warmth.

 

The patterns and colours may differ but they still look chic together. If a quilt is really thin, you can decorate your table with it, or even hang it as a curtain. It will keep the heat out in summer and lend the room warmth when the cold days come. You can wrap your favourite quilt around you when you watch television, read a book and also take it to the beach.

 

Jaipur quilts are made of very fine cotton fabric, called 'mulmul' and are filled with fluffed-up cotton wool. The air pockets make them warm, soft, light and fluffy. The soft cotton fabric cover has block-printed designs and is stitched usually by hand. The designs come in bright hues as well as muted pastel shades, using traditional motifs of flowers, leaves, plants and geometric shapes, often assimilating them in a stylised, contemporary form.

 

Contents

 

Foreword

9

Preface

11

Introduction

13

Jaipur: the Pink City

17

Of quilts and quilting

39

The origins and the making

53

Old quilt makers

73

The legendary Kitty Rae

93

Soma: Comfort, culture, craft

109

Mughal garden

125

Urban charm

141

Antique textile revivalists

157

Artist in residence

173

Epilogue

185

Acknowledgements

189

Addresses: Designers, Producers and Museums

193

Bibliography

195

Glossary

197

Index

201

 

Sample Pages



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