Something essentially different from the rest in the ensemble, a piece for neck, by whatever name, has always had, hence, a distinction of its own, in the wardrobe of elite, as also on a common man’s wall, on the golden hanger of a king or queen, and on the rugged wooden pegs of a mud-house. As suggest stone-sculptures from the fourth-third centuries B.C., when a textile even for covering breasts had not been envisaged, costume fashions included a beautifully conceived and crafted wear for laying over the shoulders beautifying the neck. This upper wear, ‘uttariya’ as it has been named in early Sanskrit terminology, is the visually documented earliest form of sash, stole or whatever put around one’s neck. Besides a sash or stole-type wear worn around the neck, an identical textile used as waistband has been in great fashion during the entire medieval period among all, Mughals or Rajputs.
The designer of this stole has identified its four areas : broadly, its four corners – two each defining one end-part, to adorn and thereby transform it into a piece of wear from a simple length. Obviously, he seems to have had in mind that whichever way it was put on, it essentially displayed its both ends, ether both unfurling on the front, or one each on the front and the back. All four corners have been differently conceived. One of the four corners has been designed with the quarter of a circle : about one-and-a-half inch wide line in golden yellow. The repeat patterns of a balloon-motif, rendered in wide range of colours, intercept it. A large six-petalled flower flanked by two stylised forked leaves floats over its apex, while inside the ring there are two rows, one consisting of half-arch forms alternated by ‘V’ shape motif, and the other, a curved line with calligraphic contours intercepted by balloon-motifs.
The corner just below it has been adorned with a horizontally stretched floral arabesque consisting of flower motifs, isolated petals, twigs with calligraphic curves, all in various shades of green, and two floral motifs in pink, purple and magenta. The design-pattern on the corner, diagonally opposite it, has been conceived with similar style of arabesques, though here its stretch along the edge of the textile, that is, horizontally, is far wider up to the centre, or even beyond, all patterns have been rendered in various shades of saffron, and contours of curving lines are closer to calligraphy. The design-pattern conceived to adorn the fourth corner above it has been moved slightly towards the centre and to the centre of the large horizontal motif on the edge opposite it. It is a large-size flower with eight petals in purple with darkened contours, and in between each two, eight forms suggestive of honey-bees.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.